Jack Crowley and his importance in Ireland’s hunt for Six Nations success

Ireland are on course to be the first-ever side to win back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams and Jack Crowley has played a pivotal part.

Their 31-7 victory over Wales last weekend was the third match in a row in which Andy Farrell’s side had won a game by more than 20 points.

A glance at the Six Nations table tells the tale of a dominant, machine-like Irish side, who remain in their own tier compared to the rest – 81 points to the positive and ultimately with one hand already on the trophy.

However, questions were asked of this Irish side after a disappointing World Cup quarter-final loss to New Zealand.

Could Ireland recover from this?

Would life be the same after Johnny Sexton?

Was there hope for another Irish Grand Slam? 

Those questions have been answered with a resounding yes.

We all know rugby is a team game, but what Crowley has done for Ireland thus far has been nothing short of exceptional.

The 24-year-old has seamlessly integrated himself into Farell’s starting 15, filling the void left by Sexton with a plethora of confidence.

Who is Jack Crowley?

Born on January 13, 2000 in Innishannon, Crowley attended Bandon Grammar School in Cork, Ireland, where he began his career in rugby.

Crowley captained the school’s rugby team during his final year, before moving on to play with Cork Constitution in 2019 while studying Commerce at University College Cork.

The Munster academy was the next stop on the road for Crowley, where he made his senior debut for the province against Ulster in January 2021.

It wasn’t long before he signed a two-year contract with Munster and made his first start for the club nine months later in the United Rugby Championship.

In December 2022, after featuring in the Champions Cup, Crowley signed a two-year extension to keep him at Munster until 2025.

Ireland career

Crowley’s senior debut for Ireland came in an Autumn Nations Series match against Fiji, when he replaced Joey Carbery at fly-half in November 2022.

Only a week later and Crowley was named among the starting 15 for the first time in green, as he successfully converted a try and kicked a penalty against Australia.

He was then selected for the 2023 Six Nations and came on as a substitute against Italy, as Ireland went on to win the grand slam.

Crowley appeared in four of Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup games, playing for a total of 59 points and scoring 11 points.

Fast forward to present day and Crowley has cemented himself at the forefront of a new era in Irish rugby.

How good has Jack Crowley been?

Crowley has played every minute of this year’s Six Nations and is averaging more points per game than Sexton managed in his four starts during Ireland’s grand slam triumph in 2023.

He has oozed confidence and it all started with that orchestrated performance in France, when the Munster man was on the scoreboard after six minutes in a game the Irish spent 93% of in the lead.

Crowley successfully converted tries from Jamison Gibson-Park and Tadhg Beirne in the first half, before adding a further six points his total in a coherent performance against the French.

Five conversions, one penalty and 13 points marked the start of a special journey ahead for the Munster man, with the very simple and easy task of having to fill the boots of one of Ireland’s greatest ever players.

Italy were next, and after eight minutes Crowley scored his first-ever international try as a much-changed Irish side went on to pick apart Italy in a convincing 36-0 win.

Then, in another bonus-point victory, Crowley couldn’t miss a kick and totalled 11 points in Ireland’s win over Wales, leaving them perched at the summit of the Six Nations with two games left to go.

Crowley has proven himself not just as a capable replacement for Sexton, but as a driving force behind Ireland’s relentless pursuit of greatness.

Twickenham provides another venue for the youngster to prove that he belongs with the very best in world rugby.

If Ireland can overcome England, it will all come back to Dublin for the victory parade with Scotland the last opponent for a clean sweep.

England host Ireland on Saturday, March 9, before Scotland visit the Aviva on Saturday, March 16.

Feature image credit: Paolo Camera via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License)

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