After a stunning match against France, Irish rugby fans have gotten a taste of what lays ahead in the Six Nations without Johnny Sexton.
Ireland defeated France last night by 17 to 38, the best ever Six Nations result on French soil.
Off the Ball’s Aisling O’Reilly was at the match in Marseille last night and told The Anton Savage Show there was a brilliant atmosphere at the historic match.
“The noise levels at the stadium were something I've never experienced before,” she said. “They were off the charts, like goosebumps during the national anthem.
“All the talk before the game was about life after Johnny Sexton and if Ireland can shake off the disappointment of the World Cup.
“I don't think we'll ever make up for the disappointment, but they certainly put in an unbelievable performance.
“This is a new chapter now for Ireland.”
'The shadow of Johnny Sexton'
Aisling said the first Six Nations victory this season is thanks to both seasoned players and those coming off the bench for the first time.
“I spoke to Alan Quinlan after the game and I think he mentioned about 17 players because it was just it was one of those nights where everybody really stood out,” she said.
“You had the young players that were stepping in there for the first time... Jack Crowley came off the bench, it was Joe McCarthy’s first start, Calvin Nash.
“Jack Crowley was stepping into the shoes of Johnny Sexton, that was the talk before [the match].
“Even Andy Farrell afterwards in the press conference said like obviously that will creep into someone's mind.
“He just took on that challenge.”
Six Nations Grand Slam
Aisling said this historic victory could even be the first step to achieving a second Grand Slam at the Six Nations.
“It’s a hard thing to do,” she said. “With that performance, with a play like that, [Ireland] will be very hard to beat.
“The likes of Gary Ringrose will be back in there... so yeah, it really is ‘why not?’.
“This was the big test - to get over the line in France, then you can talk about a Grand Slam back-to-back.”
Ireland will play against Italy next Saturday, February 11th, in the Aviva Stadium.
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