Captain Marvel!

To the winner the spoils: Niamh Briggs (inset) pictured with the Six Nations Championship trophy. 								| Main Photo: Noel Browne

To the winner the spoils: Niamh Briggs (inset) pictured with the Six Nations Championship trophy. | Main Photo: Noel Browne

Niamh Briggs leads Ireland to second Six Nations title

We’re beginning to run out of superlatives when it comes to Niamh Briggs. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Well then, it’s time for a quick recap.

We’re talking about the 2013 World Player of the Year, who then followed that up by being nominated for the award again last year.

Two-time Rugby Writers Player of the Year, two-time Park Hotel Waterford Supreme Sports Star (and she’s surely in the running for a third successive win), Grand Slam winner and now, proudly, a Triple Crown and Six Nations Championship-winning captain.

Added to that, the Abbeyside native topped the scoring charts in this year’s Championship
and will remember last Sunday’s 73-3 victory over Scotland, her 50th Irish cap, with particular affection.

“I’m absolutely delighted, thrilled, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Niamh told RTE’s Michael Corcoran, after she set the ball rolling when crossing the Broadwood whitewash in the fourth minute. She would end the match with 23 points, a typical day off the kicking tee for the Irish skipper.

“It was important for us to be clinical and make sure our execution was at a professional standard,” Niamh continued, “and once we got into our stride, I don’t think there was any questioning the result; it was just a matter of us, being a bit ruthless and turning the screw…and I think we did that in the second half.”

And turn the screw Ireland did, running in 11 tries in total during Sunday’s Championship-clinching victory, a second title in three years, sandwiched by a fourth place finish in last summer’s World Cup.

“This (3G) surface, on a good sunny day, it’s great for running rugby and we have to play to our strengths, and our pack was absolutely outstanding, and when we had to defend, and we did for periods of time, we were in control and that’s very satisfying too.”

To regain this Championship, to prove the progress of recent years has been sustained and to do so in the wake of several high-profile retirements, and under a new coach in Tom Tierney, must make this success all the more significant.

“A lot of people were talking at the start of the season about those retirements and the change of management, but you know, we want to win games, we want to win Championships and we want to be up there with the best in the world and wanted to really show that 2013 wasn’t a flash in the pan so we’re absolutely thrilled…

“After 2013, I must be honest, I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to get into this position again. It makes you cherish it all the more so, look, 50th cap, what a day, I’m delighted.”

And so she should be. Take a bow, Niamh. You’ve done us proud yet again!

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