Ireland reach new heights and make New Zealand game an enticing prospect

New Six Nations champions go to Twickenham for a possible grand slam but Ireland’s autumn game with All Blacks now catches the eye

The most satisfying week in Irish sporting history? If their horses can cope with the soft ground at Cheltenham and their rugby players canter to a triumphant grand slam at Twickenham on Saturday the next few days will definitely be up there. Just imagine the wild delight on St Patrick’s Day should England trail in a distant second behind Rory Best’s thoroughbred Six Nations champions.

The latest official World Rugby rankings are already worth toasting. As a consequence of their team’s four successive championship victories to date and England’s recent nosedive, the rankings now read as follows: 1. New Zealand, 2. Ireland. 3. England. 4. Australia 5. South Africa. It is only the second time in history the Irish have been ranked so high – the previous occasion was merely for a fleeting fortnight in August 2015 just prior to the last World Cup.

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