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Irish Rugby Triple Crown 1982

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Uploaded on Jun 7, 2011

There is little doubt that 1982 was an important milestone for Irish rugby. Eight years after their last Triple Crown success Ireland appeared set for a new glorious era. The success of 1974 had bridged a gap of 23 years before their previous Triple Crown success.

However this was the first time Ireland won the Triple Crown on home soil. On their way to that famous triumph the team led by Ciaran Fitzgerald had a difficult hurdle to overcome at Twickenham.

However a memorable try from Gerry 'Ginger' McLoughlin clinched a famous victory over the Auld Enemy.

A set-piece close to the England line left the minimum of room for the front row, but when McLoughlin got possession he was simply unstoppable as he carried three England players over the line with him. The scenes of jubilation which greeted the final whistle gave testament to Ireland's relief. Now within one game of winning the Triple Crown after so many years of frustration.

The Irish supporters would have gone into the 1982 season with expectations glued to the floorboards. They had lost their previous seven Tests, including a whitewash in the 1981 Five Nations, but the mood altered considerably when Ireland beat Wales in the first match of the 1982 championship. There was something irresistible about the performance and about Ollie Campbell in particular. If it came as a surprise to most people, there were, at least, two glorious exceptions.

The previous summer Ireland had lost a two-Test series in South Africa, both games proving serious contests from start to finish. As legend has it, when Willie Duggan returned home to Kilkenny, he walked into his local bookmaker's shop carrying a fistful of cash, half his own, the other half belonging to his big mate in the back row, Fergus Slattery. Duggan slapped the lot on Ireland to win the 1982 Triple Crown at odds of 14-1.

Their rationale was this: in the 1981 Five Nations Ireland had lost all four games, but the biggest losing margin had been just six points. In South Africa, they'd lost two more Tests, but again the difference was minimal: eight points in Cape Town, two in Durban. Duggan and Slattery felt sure the team was about to click. So it proved.

England's pack was massive, but Ireland eventually prevailed. Even though just a single point separated the teams at the end, there was no real danger of Ireland losing once Gerry McLoughlin had scored. "We knew we'd a good team in the way the current side knows they are a good team, but my abiding memory was that it was physically exhausting," Fitzgerald said. "They'd a huge pack and they were starting to wear us down. Ginger's (McLoughlin's) try came just at the right time, and although they came back and scored a late try, we mentally thought we'd won the match after Ginger scored."

Ireland went on to claim their first Triple Crown since 1949 two weeks later against the Scots when 21 points from the boot of Campbell sparked the kind of celebrations that have been rarely seen in Irish rugby since.

Lansdowne Road, 23 January: beat Wales 20-12 (M Finn 2 tries; O Campbell 2 pens, con; T Ringland try) IRELAND: H MacNeill; T Ringland, D Irwin, P Dean, M Finn; O Campbell, R McGrath; P Orr, C Fitzgerald (capt), G McLoughlin, M Keane, D Lenihan, J O'Driscoll, F Slatter y, W Duggan Subs: M Kiernan for Irwin; J Murphy for Dean

Twickenham, 6 February: beat England 16-15 (O Campbell 2 pens, con; H MacNeill, G McLoughlin tries) IRELAND: H MacNeill; T Ringland, M Kiernan, P Dean, M Finn; O Campbell, R McGrath; P Orr, C Fitzgerald (capt), G McLoughlin, M Keane, D Lenihan, J O'Driscoll, F Slatter y, W Duggan

Lansdowne Road, 20 February: beat Scotland 21-12 (O Campbell 6 pens, drop goal) IRELAND: H MacNeill; M Finn, M Kiernan, P Dean, K Crossan; O Campbell, R McGrath; P Orr, C Fitzgerald (capt), G McLoughlin, M Keane, D Lenihan, J O'Driscoll, F Slatter y, W Duggan * * *

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