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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
©INPHO David Wallace celebrates the Triple Crown in 2004.
# Silverware
'It was incredible. When you're that age, you're just bewildered by the whole thing'
Josh van der Flier watched from the stands the last time Ireland won a trophy on home soil.

JOSH VAN DER Flier was there in Lansdowne Road the last time Ireland won major silverware on home soil back in 2004.

He was only 10 at the time but has vivid memories of watching that 37-16 win over Scotland on a day when Gordon D’Arcy scored a brace, Geordan Murphy and Peter Stringer dotted down, and Ronan O’Gara kicked 10 points.

There was also a try for David Wallace, the man wearing the number seven shirt that day.

18 years later, van der Flier is set to be at openside for Ireland as they bid to beat the Scots for their first Triple Crown since 2018 and their first silverware on Irish soil since 2004. They could even be celebrating a Six Nations title later on Saturday night if England can do them a favour in Paris.

It’s exactly what the young van der Flier would have imagined for himself all those years ago.

“It was incredible,” says van der Flier of that day in 2004, “I still remember it so well.

“I suppose when you’re that age, you’re just bewildered by the whole thing, really any game you go to.

“I remember going to school games and when I was a first year, going to the Wesley senior games and thinking they’re just the most amazing things ever, and obviously international games were even more so. So yeah, it was pretty cool.”

There are other fond memories of the old Lansdowne Road, with van der Flier explaining how his dad once put him up on his shoulders so he could see the game.

“I had to be small enough if I was on his shoulders!”

These days, van der Flier is one of the men out on the pitch that the young people in the stand dream of emulating.

Lifting a Triple Crown in front of young fans, friends, and family would be special.

josh-van-der-flier-arrives Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Van der Flier at Ireland training yesterday. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“It would be incredible,” says van der Flier. “We spoke about it throughout the tournament, these opportunities don’t come by so often.

“I’ve been very fortunate with Leinster to be on the field when we’ve won trophies, but to do it for Ireland would be absolutely incredible.

“In my head, I guess, I’m trying not to think about it, I’m trying to think more about getting a good performance and that’s a by-product of it, but certainly it’s exciting.”

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Scotland will be out to spoil the party and finish their own Six Nations on a high following victory over England, defeats to Wales and France, then a win against Italy last weekend. 

Ireland have a superb record against the Scots, having won 12 of the last 15 fixtures between the two nations, with a six-game winning streak ahead of this weekend’s clash.

Scotland last won in Ireland in 2010, when Dan Parks guided them to victory in Croke Park, but van der Flier is wary of the threat this weekend.

“They have very good players,” he says. “Rory Darge has been brilliant. I played against him early on in the season. He’s been really good for them and he has been performing well the last few weeks.

“Big breakdown threat, good ball-carriers… Hamish Watson obviously as well. He’s a Lions player, extremely dangerous and a really good ball-carrier, and great over the ball as well.

“Then you have [Matt] Fagerson and [Magnus] Bradbury, all good players. Good offloads, good carriers of the ball, so I think it’s probably important from our attack perspective that we’re not giving them those opportunities in the breakdown and then in defence, make sure we’re not giving them that momentum because they are good at offloads and they are good carriers of the ball once they get a bit of momentum.”

- This article was updated at 8.45am to correct ’2020′ to ’2010′ in the 18th paragraph.

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