God be with the days. Within the lifetime of anyone over 30, a week like the one dawning this morning meant frenzy throughout the land. When Ireland were waiting on Scotland to arrive at Lansdowne Road for the final leg of the 1982 Triple Crown, folk printed out signs calling for Ollie Campbell to be made Taoiseach. We're not saying that Drico wouldn't walk into the job in the morning if he wanted it, just that it's unlikely that a win next Saturday would be the sort of thing to tip the balance.
Yesterday's 27-12 win means that victory against Scotland will make it a fifth Triple Crown in seven years and a fourth in five. As exercises in stock-piling Triple Crowns go, only the England team of the mid-1990s and the Welsh gods of the '70s can better it. That both those sides won multiple championships to boot gives them a further stripe on their shoulder over Declan Kidney's team but any way you crack it, a win over the Scots would further filigree a golden age.
On the face of it, dealing with Andy Robinson's side at Croke Park shouldn't be Rubik's Cube complicated. Ireland have taken this fixture for each of the last eight years in the Six Nations and it's only history and the reasonably fresh memories of the horrid old '90s that ever has folk more jittery about facing the Scots than the Italians. The perception of Scotland being a constant danger is, on results, purely a perception now. In reality, whereas Ireland have beaten Italy by an aggregate of 137 points over the past eight years, they've beaten Scotland by 134. They say it takes years to build a reputation and a second to ruin it but this is one that has hung around.
No point taking them lightly, of course, and nobody would. But they're well on their way to another season as the team with the lowest try total in the championship for a reason. In the 10 years of the Six Nations, they've finished with the fewest tries either jointly or on their own seven times. Anyone watching them in Rome a fortnight ago saw why. Scotland were in the Italian 22 twice as many times as the home side invaded theirs and they got nowhere.
For all the dexterity in Dan Parks's boots, he can look woefully ponderous on his feet. And although Max Evans has a fair amount of spring in his heels and does a clever line in sidestep – the result of some personal coaching from Margot Wells in fact, wife and coach to former Olympic 100m gold medallist Alan – but even at full pelt, that counts for nought when his forwards can't get him the ball in space. Under Les Kiss, what Ireland do best in defence is vaporise thinking time and make the opposition have to deal with the hit rather than focus on the next move. In those conditions, creating acreage for Evans or anyone else to run through is an improbable ask.
With only Gordon D'Arcy an injury doubt after yesterday – Declan Kidney said it might not turn out to be as serious as it first looked, a badly deadened leg rather than a grave knock on the knee – Ireland face the week in fine fettle. In Croke Park's last rugby match, it's bordering on the unfeasible that Ireland would allow it all to end off-key and out of tune. When the time comes to look back and make lists on the past three years on Dublin's northside, the 43-13 demolition of England in 2007 will obviously stand out so there's no room at the top. A defeat next Saturday, however, would take up residence at the bottom – an unthinkable lowlight after so many highs.
Won't happen. Ireland to win pulling up, giving them a trophy to parade on a last lap of honour in Dublin 3.
Ireland v Scotland
Saturday, Croke Park, 5.00
Referee Jonathan Kaplan
Live, RTÉ Two, BBC1