Classic Match: O’Gara drop goal seals Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam

Ireland may have reigned victorious over Wales last Six Nations campaign in a 37-27 win, but few matches can compete with the epic clash from 2009.

Ireland may have reigned victorious over Wales last Six Nations campaign in a 37-27 win, but few matches can compete with the epic clash from 2009.

With both team’s hoping for to lift the coveted Six Nations Championship trophy, it was the ultimate case of winner takes all.


Without a Six Nations title since 1985, Ireland were on the cusp of their first Grand Slam victory since 1948.

But in their way was reigning champions Wales, playing on their home Principality Stadium pitch and still with a shot of clinching the title themselves.

Needing to win by 13 points, Warren Gatland’s side would need to pull-off a fearsome performance to deny Ireland’s ‘golden generation’ the Six Nations crown.


Before kick-off Wales were rocked by the loss of No.8 Andy Powell, with their captain Ryan Jones shifting from the blindside to No.8 and Scarlets flanker Dafydd Jones stepping into the starting XV.

Ireland’s made three changes from the team that had defeated Scotland seven days earlier with Peter Stringer, Jerry Flannery and Jamie Heaslip coming into the fold.


A game decided by the final kick, Ireland watched on helplessly as Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones attempted to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Carefully placing the ball on the tee a mammoth 48 yards from the posts, Jones set his sights and angled the ball towards the posts.

With the opportunity to deny the Six Nations trophy going to Dublin, the ball glided sumptuously through the air slowly dipping until eventually coming to a halt inches short of the upright and handing Ireland a history making 17-15 victory.

Suddenly 61 years of Grand Slam hurt evaporated in an instant as Ireland claimed their first Triple Crown since 2007 and only their second Grand Slam in their history.

While Jones’ missed penalty proved decisive, Ireland will forever be indebted to Ronan O’Gara’s 77th minute drop goal for securing victory after Jones earlier gave Wales a decisive lead a minute earlier.

Going into the break with a 6-0 advantage thanks to two Stephen Jones penalties, Wales knew a strong second performance could wrestle the Six Nations trophy away from Ireland’s grasp.

But when both sides returned to the pitch, Ireland proved to be a different beast – scoring twice in quick succession when Brian O’Driscoll and Tommy Bowe crossed the whitewash in rapid succession.

Ever reliable O’Gara added the extras on both occasions to hand the men in green an eight-point advantage before Wales’ fightback began.

With two Ireland mistakes came two penalties. Duly converted by Jones, the Welshman appeared to doom Ireland once more with a pivotal drop goal to hand Wales the lead with under five minutes remaining.

Suddenly up popped fly-half O’Gara, measuring the ball and kicking it between the posts to end 61 years of Grand Slam pain and secure Ireland’s first Six Nations title since Italy’s introduction in 2000.


“It’s a fantastic feeling and just reward for the hard work we’ve put in through a lot of years. We’ve had good times and not so good times, but this is a great time,” said Brian O’Driscoll.

Wales 15-17 Ireland Principality Stadium Saturday 21 March 2009

Wales: Byrne; M Jones, Shanklin, Henson, S Williams; S Jones, Phillips; Jenkins, Rees, A. Jones, Gough, A Jones, D Jones, M Williams, R Jones (capt). Replacements: Roberts for Byrne (30), Bennett for Rees (55), Charteris for Gough (55). Not Used: Yapp, J Thomas, Fury, Hook.

Ireland: Kearney; Bowe, B O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Fitzgerald; O’Gara, O’Leary; Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, Ferris, D Wallace, Heaslip.  Replacements: Murphy for Kearney (66), P Wallace for Fitzgerald (76), Stringer for O’Leary (69), Best for Flannery (68), Leamy for Ferris (blood, 7), Court for Hayes (blood, 27) Not Used: M O’Driscoll.

Att: 74,625 Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)