Cipriani flashback: Fly-half impresses on first Championship start

Danny Cipriani passes the ball 15/3/2008
Danny Cipriani may only have four England Test starts to his name, but the fly-half certainly made an impression in his first back in 2008.

Danny Cipriani may only have four England Test starts to his name, but the fly-half certainly made an impression in his first back in 2008.

At only 20 years old, Cipriani scored 18 points against Ireland and provided a masterclass with the boot, inspiring England to victory and a second-place finish in the Championship.   MOMENT TO REMEMBER Cipriani was a replacement against Wales and Italy in the 2008 Championship before earning his first start against Ireland at Twickenham.

England though were slow to get going and conceded a try early on as Rob Kearney muscled his way through to touch down less than four minutes in.

Ronan O’Gara slotted the conversion and added a penalty shortly after to put the Irish in the driving seat. Step forward Cipriani.

After putting a perfectly-placed grubber into the corner from open play, the fly-half was then given the opportunity to go for goal 12 minutes in – he nailed the penalty to score his first international Test points and put England on the scoreboard.

COMPOSURE FROM THE TEE When Paul Sackey crossed for England’s first try in the corner, Cipriani comfortably knocked the conversion over to level the game.

Ten minutes later, he kicked England into the lead for the first time with a simple penalty to send them into half-time with confidence.

In the second half, Cipriani continued his fine form from the tee by kicking another two penalties and two more conversions, one from each touchline, to end the match with 18 impressive points to his name.

BOSSING WITH THE BOOT Not only did Cipriani kick seven from seven attempts, his defensive clearances and pinpoint nudges led many to believe a new era in English rugby had begun.

On numerous occasions he alleviated the pressure on England’s line with his boot, finding touch from the most unlikely of places.

In attack, his territorial punts moved England into dominant positions throughout and helped keep the momentum up in a controlled performance that carried them to victory.

Following the match, Cipriani said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may have been my first game but I have played it a million times in my head.

“When the forwards play like they did, it’s easy for a 10.”

WELL-DESERVED PRAISE Having started instead of Jonny Wilkinson, Cipriani had a lot to live up to but his display caught the eye of a few notable figures in the rugby world.

Wilkinson himself said: “That was a phenomenally impressive start from Danny Cipriani in the England No10 shirt on Saturday.

“And believe me, from where I was sitting on the England bench for most of the game, it was a joy to watch.”

Cipriani’s Wasps teammate at the time Lawrence Dallaglio described his performance as ‘flawless’ and claimed the fly-half “looked like a man who’d played international rugby for a long time.”

England head coach Brian Ashton added: “Danny did really well. You’re not sure until they come out whether players can bring Premiership form into internationals, but for most of the game he did.

“He will be very pleased – and we are reasonably pleased as well.”