Wales crush shambolic Ireland to land Grand Slam

Alun Wyn Jones says Wales have now put a target on their backs after clinching a deserved Six Nations Grand Slam with a 25-7 win over an ill-disciplined Ireland. AFP  Paul ELLIS

Wales last reached second spot during the last Rugby World Cup after stunning England during the pool play.

Rory Best's Six Nations send-off is one he will hope to forget as Ireland were bested in all areas by Grand Slam winners Wales in Cardiff to finish a disappointing Championship.

Wales have now claimed four Grand Slams in 15 seasons - 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2019 - and they will head to the World Cup six months from now as major title contenders. They haven't a huge amount of game time so I think it is important to invest in people and I think that was part of the remit we decided we were going to prioritise in this Six Nations.

"We have self belief and character, we are not going to shy away, we have been unconvincing at times too but we have put a target on our backs".

Wales now celebrate just the third Grand Slam in their history and replace Ireland in second in the world rankings heading into the World Cup later this year. They'll be gracious in defeat because Wales did a super job. "We didn't look too exhausted did we", grinned Gatland referring to England counterpart Eddie Jones' dig that they would be worn out for the game.

"They will run through a brick wall for you and we are a tight knit group".

Warren Gatland became the first coach to win three Six Nations Grand Slams. AFP  Paul ELLIS
Warren Gatland became the first coach to win three Six Nations Grand Slams. AFP Paul ELLIS

"We're in a good position", he said.

"He is tough and resilient and he deserves all the accolades he gets".

"There's been a request from Wales that in the interest of the quality of the game and the very poor weather forecast that the roof be closed", said Schmidt.

Wales were unchanged from the side that beat Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend, while Ireland showed three switches as full-back Rob Kearney, flanker Sean O'Brien and lock Tadhg Beirne, who made his Six Nations debut, all started.

Sexton, the World Rugby Player of the Year, and scrum-half Murray were both called ashore in the final 10 minutes but Schmidt explained that he wanted to keep the pair on the field even though they were underperforming.

"But when you don't get that you've gotta earn something elsewhere and we weren't as good as Wales today".

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