Johnny Sexton said his son would be talking more about him becoming Ireland’s record points scorer than he would after the Ireland captain recorded another remarkable personal milestone on Saturday.
The 38-year-old’s first-half try in the 59-16 demolition of Tonga in their Rugby World Cup Pool B match took him past Ronan O’Gara, his predecessor as Ireland’s flyhalf.
Sexton’s 16-point haul in a single half against the Tongans put him on 1,090 points in 115 Tests, 13 games fewer than O’Gara needed to score 1,083 points.
He was uncharacteristically expressive after touching the ball down to round off a fine move and was mobbed by his teammates who sensed the size of his achievement.
“I was just happy to score the try,” Sexton told reporters after the match. “I think one of the lads said to me under the posts [that] I had broken it. I actually thought I might have got the record with the kick before.”
“Look, it is something you look back on when you retire and can be very proud of,” he said.
“My little boy [Luca] will be over the moon, he has been talking about it during the week and will probably try and chase it himself now,” Sexton said.
Sexton was phlegmatic about entering the record books as he maintained that records are there to be broken — and he has now taken three of O’Gara’s this year.
The others were Six Nations overall scorer and becoming Ireland’s most prolific scorer in the World Cup.
“Some young guy will be eying it up,” Sexton said. “I am very proud, but this was about going for the win and now looking ahead to the next match.”
Sexton’s actions reflected his words as he had opted to kick for touch rather than kick at goal for a previous penalty, which would have secured him the record.
Irealand head coach Andy Farrell, who has already described his talisman as “Ireland’s greatest player,” said it was fitting he had broken the record with such a lovely try.
“I’ve said to Johnny in front of the lads in there, he can talk for himself, but the record is fantastic,” he said. “He’d say that’s his job, but it takes some doing. To us, as a leader, as a player, he’s a lot more than a points-scoring machine for Ireland. How he prepares his team and gets them up for every single game is more important to him and certainly to us.”
Farrell and Sexton know that next up is a match that many see as the decider as to whether they finish top or runner-up in Pool B.
They meet defending champions South Africa in Paris on Saturday — that was one reason Sexton was withdrawn at half-time against Tonga — and Farrell said he expected an improvement on some of the sloppy play that affected his team at one point.
“I would hope we will be better, because we’ll certainly need to be when it gets to playing against a fantastic side in South Africa,” Farrell said. “We’re not ready quite yet, but we certainly will be.”
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