'I never thought I'd be in a position to say I've won a Triple Crown'

Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne reflects on an encouraging Six Nations campaign.

Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne (left) celebrates the Triple Crown win with Finlay Bealham and Dave Kilcoyne.
Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne (left) celebrates the Triple Crown win with Finlay Bealham and Dave Kilcoyne.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Updated Mar 21st 2022, 8:42 AM

WATCHING THE IRELAND players take in a lap of the Aviva Stadium and celebrating with their families on the pitch, there was no doubting what winning a Triple Crown means to this group.

Opportunities to lift some silverware don’t come around very often, so the chance to do just that in front of a home crowd is a moment to be savoured. 

This is clearly a tight-knit squad with a strong bond – getting injured duo James Ryan and Andrew Conway to do the honours of lifting the Triple Crown on Saturday provided the latest evidence of that. Throughout the Six Nations, the players spoke of how much they are enjoying their rugby, and enjoying their time in camp. 

After a mixed campaign in the 2021 championship, Ireland are playing with confidence again, the belief in themselves and their head coach’s gameplan evident for all to see.

They may not have achieved their stated goal of winning the tournament outright, but taking home a Triple Crown represents a significant marker for this squad.

“I remember being younger, and it felt like we were guaranteed to win a Triple Crown quite regularly,” said Tadhg Beirne, speaking shortly after Saturday evening’s trophy presentation.

People probably didn’t appreciate it for what it was, but as we said after the France game, we’d only won it once in over 10 years so to come in here after winning it is an incredible feeling.

“I never thought I’d be in a position to say I’ve won a Triple Crown, so I’m absolutely delighted, everyone inside is absolutely buzzing.”

Ireland move on from the Six Nations feeling the best is yet to come. While showing some encouraging flashes on their way to winning four games out of five, they never delivered the complete 80-minute performance they were looking for, the 26-5 win over Scotland littered with frustrating errors in possession.

Still, the win made in 12 wins from the last 13, leaving the squad with some good momentum to build on.

“We’re here to win silverware, that’s our goal,” Beirne continued.

“Ultimately we wanted to win the championship, we came in with the goal to win a Grand Slam and weren’t able to do that and the championship was out of our hands after Paris, but we have done absolutely everything apart from that to put ourselves in position to win the championship.”

As Beirne points out, the Triple Crown is the first piece of international silverware for a significant portion of this Ireland squad.

At 30, the Munster lock is one of the older heads in camp now, but this was an important championship for him, too. 

tadhg-beirne-in-a-line-out Beirne started all five of Ireland's Six Nations fixtures in the second row. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

For the first time in his career, the versatile Munster forward started all five games in the same position – last year he started three times in the second row and twice in the backrow. There are arguments for and against where Beirne does his best work, but his strong form this year saw him nail down the number four shirt as his own, rather than switching around the team throughout the championship. 

“A highlight would probably be the Wales game, I felt we came out really well and played incredibly well in that game,” he added.

“Again, today getting to win a trophy at home in front of our own crowd, that’s an incredible achievement and such a buzz.

From a personal point of view it was kind of up and down but I’ve played five games on the bounce and it’s been incredibly enjoyable, since the first day in camp it’s been like that.”

Ireland will get another massive test of their progress this summer when they head to New Zealand for a three-Test tour against the All Blacks, which is also set to take in two midweek games.

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November’s meeting between the two sides in Dublin delivered the statement performance of the Andy Farrell era to date, so Ian Foster’s side will be keen to set the record straight on home soil.

“They’ll be gunning for us after the Autumn game and we’ll be going over there buzzing after how we’ve finished this championship,” Beirne said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to continue the process of getting better week on week, obviously everyone will go back to their clubs now and their focus will be there and on getting into the squad for that tour.

“But before that we’ll enjoy this win.

“Everyone in here believes in what we’re doing, believes in the way we’re going forward. Everyone’s excited about what’s to come and everyone’s enjoying the moment that we’re in. So it’s a pretty exciting time ahead.”

A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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Ciarán Kennedy

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