Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Irish fume at exclusion from Six Nations finale

AFP , DUBLIN

Irish players have reacted angrily to the decision by Six Nations organizers to schedule a tournament-decider between England and France under floodlights in Paris next year.

Holding back the clash of the last two Grand Slam champions provides a mouthwatering prospect for supporters, sponsors and television executives alike.

But it has caused anger in Ireland who beat France this season and set up their own Grand Slam decider in Dublin which England won.

"How can that be when Ireland have beaten France in three of the last four meetings?" former Irish captain Mick Galwey said.

"And wasn't it Ireland, rather than France, who finished runners-up this year?

"In fact I would hazard a guess that Ireland currently have the second-best record in world rugby behind England, having lost just one match out of 11.

"If the Six Nations are going to go down the road of seeding teams, I feel they should take into account the performances of the previous year."

There was widespread criticism of this year's championship when France, who had completed last year's Grand Slam, played England at Twickenham in the opening match of the season.

The two countries are Europe's top sides and the winner was expected to romp to the title.

However, Ireland achieved a surprising breakthrough when they beat France in Dublin and set up their own Grand Slam showdown with England in Dublin. England won 42-6.

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