Classic Guinness Six Nations Matches: England v Ireland

Will Greenwood 30/3/2003
In what is arguably the highlight of Round 4 of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, England welcome Ireland to Twickenham with both teams still in with a shout of winning this year’s Championship.

In what is arguably the highlight of Round 4 of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, England welcome Ireland to Twickenham with both teams still in with a shout of winning this year’s Championship.

The match on Saturday evening will be the 139th meeting between the two countries, with England recording 80 victories to Ireland’s 50 in the historic head-to-head.

It’s a fixture that has been closely fought in recent years, however, with the two sides regularly trading wins against each other, which have often played a part in the destination of the Millennium Trophy.

In anticipation of their next clash, here are some of our favourite England vs Ireland matches from the Championship down the years.

2003 – Ireland 6-42 England

The final match of the 2003 Six Nations was a Grand Slam decider, with both teams heading to Lansdowne Road having won all four of their matches.

A frenzied atmosphere was not exactly dampened when David Humphreys knocked over an early drop goal for Ireland, but England hit back quickly when Lawrence Dallaglio went in under the posts following Matt Dawson’s break.

The rest of the first half was closely contested, with Humphreys kicking a penalty before two drop goals from Jonny Wilkinson put England 13-6 ahead going into half-time.

From that point, the visitors took over, with England determined not to fall at the final hurdle when chasing a clean sweep, as they had done for three years on the trot from 1999 until 2001.

With an hour played, Mike Tindall finished from 25 metres after being put through by Will Greenwood, who was later helped over the line himself by several of his forwards.

England were now relentless, with Wilkinson slotting a penalty before Greenwood went in for his second try and Dan Luger finished a wonderful move to seal an emphatic victory for Clive Woodward’s men.

2006 – England 24-28 Ireland

Once again, this was the final match of the Championship, only this time just a potential Triple Crown for Ireland was at stake, as they travelled to Twickenham.

England had lost their previous two matches – against Scotland and France – but they went ahead with just over a minute played when Andy Goode spread the play left for centre Jamie Noon to go over.

Ireland’s response was swift, however, as Brian O’Driscoll’s kick through was missed by Ben Cohen, allowing Shane Horgan to control the ball with his feet before grounding it.

Ronan O’Gara then kicked two penalties before Goode pulled back one of his own to reduce Ireland’s lead to 11-8 at the break.

The two quickly swapped kicks in the second half before Steve Borthwick put England ahead in the 52nd minute when put through by Joe Worsley.

Denis Leamy then pounced to score as a long line-out from England went wrong and although Goode kicked two further penalties, Ireland wouldn’t be denied and claimed the Triple Crown when Horgan powered over in the corner with just under two minutes left.

2007 – Ireland 43-13 England

This fixture, in Round 3 of the 2007 Six Nations, held great significance for Ireland, as it was their first against England at Croke Park, their temporary home while the Aviva Stadium was being built.

A crowd of around 83,000 made for a sensational atmosphere, although the match took a while to come to the boil, as O’Gara kicked three penalties to one from Wilkinson to put Ireland 9-3 ahead.

Lift-off for the hosts came after half an hour when great handling led to Girvan Dempsey scoring down the right, at a time where England had Danny Grewcock in the sin bin.

The lead was extended to an imposing 23-3 at the break when David Wallace plunged over, although England threatened a comeback when a converted try for debutant David Strettle was followed by a Wilkinson penalty.

Thirteen points was as close as they came to their hosts, however, as O’Gara sent over his fifth penalty before Horgan soared above Josh Lewsey to claim O’Gara’s cross-field kick and score.

Ireland’s record victory over England was sealed with a flourish with two minutes left, as replacement scrum-half Isaac Boss intercepted Shaun Perry’s pass to run in unopposed.

2018 – England 15-24 Ireland

The script was written and Ireland followed it almost to the letter, as they clinched a third Grand Slam in their history on English soil, on St Patrick’s Day.

It had been eight years since the Irish had triumphed at Twickenham, but they led after six minutes, in freezing conditions, when Anthony Watson, under pressure from Rob Kearney, couldn’t gather Johnny Sexton’s high kick, allowing Garry Ringrose to steal in.

If the opening try relied on some fortune, the second certainly didn’t as Tadgh Furlong’s soft hands sent Bundee Aki charging into space and from his pass, CJ Stander grounded against the base of the post.

While Ireland had Peter O’Mahony off the field for a yellow card, England pulled an unconverted try back when Elliot Daly got on the end of Owen Farrell’s kick in behind the defence.

There was then a record-breaking moment for Jacob Stockdale just before half-time as the winger gathered his own chip ahead to score his seventh try of the 2018 Six Nations.

This put Ireland 21-5 ahead at the break, with Sexton kicking another penalty in the second half before England restored some pride through late tries by Daly and Jonny May.

2019 – Ireland 20-32 England

Ireland came into the opening round of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations as defending champions, while they had also defeated New Zealand on home turf for the first time the previous autumn.

Understandably, Irish hopes were high at the Aviva Stadium, but England flew out of the traps and struck in the second minute when May scored in the corner from Daly’s pass, with Farrell adding the extras.

Ireland dusted themselves off as Johnny Sexton’s penalty got them on the board before Cian Healy burrowed his way over from close range for a converted try.

This would be the only time the hosts led, however, as Stockdale fumbled Daly’s kick ahead, under pressure from Jack Nowell, allowing the former to get the ball down.

Farrell’s penalty extended England’s advantage to 17-10 at half-time and although Sexton cancelled this out, the visitors pulled further clear after 66 minutes when Henry Slade grounded May’s kick down the left wing.

An impressive English victory was sealed when Slade did well to intercept Sexton’s pass to score again, with Ireland having the final word through John Cooney’s last-minute try.