Ireland hold on to Six Nations trophy

Ireland retained their Six Nations title with a hard-fought 17-13 win over Scotland after Warren Gatland offered to quit as Wales boss following a home defeat by Italy that condemned his side to a tournament whitewash.

France finished in second place after edging England 33-31 in a thrilling final match on “Super Saturday”. Irish hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams had been dashed by last week’s dramatic 23-22 loss to England at Twickenham.

But Ireland knew that if they avoided defeat, or secured two bonus points, against a Scotland side fresh from a 31-29 defeat by Italy in Rome, they would keep hold of the title.

Scotland were bidding for their first Triple Crown – when one of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales beats each of those other teams in a single championship season – since 1990.

And the Scots produced a mammoth defensive effort in Dublin that threatened to frustrate Ireland.

– ‘War of attrition’ –

Tries by Dan Sheehan and Andrew Porter eventually proved enough for Ireland, although Scotland centre Huw Jones crossed late on to set up a tense finish.

“It was a war of attrition,” said Ireland coach Andy Farrell.

“I am delighted for the lads as back-to-back titles is very difficult to achieve,” the former England international added.

Scotland boss Gregor Townsend praised his side despite a tenth successive defeat by Ireland, saying: “I feel really proud of the players. All 23 – the effort they put in today, in one of the toughest environments to play in.”

Earlier, Wales finished bottom of the Six Nations for the first time since 2003 – when they also lost all five matches – after a 24-21 defeat by Italy in Cardiff.

It was a sad way for centre George North, who went off injured late on, to bow out from test rugby as he joined a list of senior Wales players who have retired from international duty either side of last year’s World Cup in France.

Saturday’s loss led Gatland, in his second spell as Wales boss, to offer his resignation to Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney, even though the 60-year-old New Zealander is contracted until the 2027 World Cup in Australia. – SuperSport

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