Youngs determined to avoid another Dublin debacle

Julian GUYER
England's Ben Youngs at Twickenham stadium in south-west London on December 3, 2016

Ben Youngs hopes the bitter experience he gained from England's last attempt to win a Grand Slam in Ireland will help prevent another Dublin debacle this weekend.

Victory for England, who've already retained their Six Nations title, over Ireland on Saturday would see them complete back-to-back Grand Slams and mean they had set a new record of 19 consecutive Test victories by a leading rugby union nation.

But six years ago they arrived at Lansdowne Road just 80 minutes away from a Six Nations clean sweep only to suffer a chastening 24-8 defeat.

Leicester scrum-half Youngs is one of several England survivors from that loss, including current captain Dylan Hartley.

"I remember I think (Ireland's) Tommy Bowe scored with a quick tap. I don’t know what the score was at half-time (17-3 to Ireland) but it was probably chasing it in wet weather," Youngs said.

"I’m sure it will be wet again at the weekend, or at least it’s meant to be. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re chasing the game as early on as we were in 2011."

Six years ago, England were 14-0 behind inside half an hour and almost out of the game as Ireland came flying out of the blocks.

"Those first 20 minutes are going to be vital for us and we’ll put a massive emphasis on making sure we get those early exchanges right," said the 27-year-old Youngs, now a veteran of 71 Tests.

England dominated from the start in last week's 61-21 title-clinching thrashing of Scotland at Twickenham -- a match where they scored seven tries, including a hat-trick for centre Jonathan Joseph, as they equalled world champions' New Zealand's record of 18 Test wins in a row.

- 'Juggernaut pack'

Youngs believes an equally aggressive approach will also serve England well in Dublin.

"This weekend we’d much rather be the ones doing that and go out and attack it rather than waiting to see what the pace of the game is like," he said.

Youngs, fly-half George Ford and inside centre Owen Farrell have formed an effective midfield combination in attack for England, with the trio involved in several tries against Scotland.

"I think George has matured so much, he’s always been mature in terms of a rugby head but he has taken his game to the next level," said Youngs, who can look forward to playing alongside Ford at club level again when the Bath No 10 returns to Leicester at the end of the season.

"He’s unbelievably selfless in terms of how he operates, giving boys time on the ball. His touches and his kicking game and all that. It’s a joy to be fair.

"One of the other things is that we’re very fortunate to sit behind a juggernaut pack which always helps. I thought these boys have put us on the front foot a number of times in these games and that’s allowed us to then put other teams under pressure.

"We’ll need that at the weekend, we’ll need the pack to get us on the front foot."

Whatever happens on Saturday, England, who've yet to lose under Australian coach Eddie Jones, will be collect the Six Nations trophy.

But having already suffered the awkward experience of receiving silverware after a Dublin defeat, with England winning the 2011 Six Nations, Youngs is in no mood for a repeat.

"It doesn’t seem right to lose a game and then go and get a trophy does it?," he said.