If losing the Grand Slam to Ireland was not bad enough, England have suffered the embarrassment of a celebration video being leaked to YouTube as well as thousands of unwanted commemorative t-shirts in the wake of their 24-8 defeat at Lansdowne Road.
England's official kit suppliers Nike produced a special video under the title ‘Grand Slam Champions 2011' featuring a montage of Toby Flood, Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and other players in expectation of the odds-on favourites completing their first Six Nations clean sweep since 2003.
Embarrasingly, the video made its way onto internet site YouTube, much to the delight of Irish supporters, while it also emerged that Nike had printed 5,000 special limited edition t-shirts “inspired by the iconic image of the English rose” which were due to go on sale at the final whistle.
Plans for celebratory screen advertisements at Waterloo, Kings Cross, Euston and Charing Cross train stations also had to be shelved.
Meanwhile, Ireland were yesterday confirmed as the top-ranked northern hemisphere rugby nation by the updated world rankings and try-scoring hero Tommy Bowe believes they can use their powerful end to the Six Nations as a launch pad for their World Cup assault later this year.
Declan Kidney's side’s victory over England not only denied Martin Johnson's men their first Grand Slam since 2003 but also saw Ireland leapfrog the losers into fourth position in the world rankings table despite England being crowned Six Nations champions.
Ireland have moved ahead of England and France to become the top-rated northern hemisphere side with only the southern hemisphere big three of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa ranked above them, in that order. Ireland still trail world champions South Africa by just under four rating points.
RTE revealed yesterday that viewing figures for the closing stages of Saturday's victory hit the one million-mark and Bowe believes the feelgood factor can spark a meaningful World Cup challenge when the tournament kicks off in September.
“I missed out on the last World Cup which was a very frustrating time in my career,” said Bowe. “The most important thing is this match is now a building block heading into the World Cup. If we had lost, it would have been very easy to come into camp before the World Cup with heads down again.
“Now, people will watch that game again and the boys will be able to come back with a smile on their faces and know we can take on the best teams in the world. It's great that we are the top northern hemisphere team, it's a great plus for us. Considering the criticism we had been getting that is a great testament to us. Now we have to live up to that.”.