Ronan O’Gara’s late drop goal gave Ireland their first grand slam in 61 years as they were crowned Six Nations champions with a dramatic 17-15 victory over Wales in Cardiff.
In the final minute of the match, Welsh flyhalf Stephen Jones had the chance to win it for the home side but his long-range penalty fell agonizingly short to spark emotional celebrations by the Irish. Ireland captain and man of the match Brian O’Driscoll admitted that it would have been absolutely heartbreaking if Jones had landed the kick. “It feels so good, you know for it go to down to that at the end it would have broken my heart, ” he told BBC Sport. “I’m so proud of my boys, I’m just so delighted.” O’Driscoll led a stirring second half revival by the Irish, who trailed 6-0 at the interval through a pair of penalties by Jones. He barged over for a try, converted by O’Gara with winger Tommy Bowe then bursting through the home line to cross again. O’Gara made the easy conversion as Ireland led 14-6, but indiscipline saw them give away two penalties, both kicked by Jones. After a surging late Welsh attack, Jones slotted over a drop kick to give them a 15-14 lead and Irish hopes of a first slam since 1948 looked to be receding. Then up stepped O’Gara to respond with a drop kick of his own which proved to be the winning score. It was Ireland’s first Six Nations title since 1984, with Wales, who had needed to win by 13 points to retain the crown, slipping to fourth behind England and France who both claimed last day victories. England beat Scotland 26-12 at Twickenham with Ugo Monye, Riki Flutey and replacement Mathew Tait scoring the tries as they retained the Calcutta Cup. France, routed by England the previous week, crossed seven times in a 50-8 win over bottom side Italy.