It's been an outstanding past 12 months for Ireland. From winning their first ever test series against the All Blacks in New Zealand, to beating Australia and South Africa in the Autumn Nations Series. The next big task for Andy Farrell's men comes in the form of an underperforming England side, who stand in the way of Ireland winning a Grand Slam on home turf for the very first time.
Over the years, England has had some phenomenal squads, none more so than their World Cup winning side in 2003.
It was a team stacked full of world class players with the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Will Greenwood and more, instrumental on their route to World Cup glory.
Not only did the English win the World Cup that year, they also cruised to a Six Nations Championship and Grand Slam six months before, something everyone involved with Irish rugby will be desperate to replicate this year.
Ferris on similarities between Irish rugby in 2023 and England 2003
Former Ireland and Ulster back row Stephen Ferris spoke about some similarities that the Irish rugby side have shown in recent times that remind him of that outstanding England side from 20 years ago.
Speaking to Balls.ie on the Build Up in association with Ladbrokes, Ferris said
I think even if you look back on that 2003 Rugby World Cup winning side of England. You had Martin Johnson. You had Lawrence Dallaglio in the back row. You had Jonny Wilkinson. You had Will Greenwood. You had Jason Robinson. Like five or six guys who played 10/10 every single week. Then you look at the Ireland team, you look at the way James Ryan has played in this tournament, he has been exceptional.
Stephen Ferris also highlighted a number of other Irish rugby stars who have "consistantly" performed in big games over the past year.
Then in the back row take your pick between Caelan Doris and Josh Van Der Flier and even Peter O'Mahony who probably had one of his best games at the weekend. Then you've Johnny Sexton the old-timer who just keeps knocking around and Hugo Keenan at full back. Then the wingers who are in scintilating form, so there are a number of correlations between that 2003 winning side to Ireland's side and I think it's the consistancy and the team selection and the big name players that are playing consistantly in all of the big games.
The winning mentality that Irish rugby have now across a number of age groups certainly resembles that of the English side of 2003, but unless they match their achievements two decades on, those comparisons will be short lived.