Ireland's Six Nations title win capped an excellent tournament for Joe Schmidt's side, as they reclaimed the title for the first time in five years.
The luck of the Irish came into fruition during the final round of fixtures, after England's 52-11 win over Italy and France pushed the table toppers all of the way. At one point, they even thought they had snatched victory.
Although it was Ireland's tournament win, there were still plenty of faces to come out of this year's contest with lots of pride—and some who can take no pride at all.
|RBS Six Nations: Final standings|
There was probably never going to be a better occasion for Brian O'Driscoll to bow out of international rugby than to pick up his second Six Nations medal.
The 35-year-old played a crucial role in Saturday's 22-20 victory in Paris to help the country reclaim the title for the first time since 2009.
Speaking at a press conference shortly after victory, O'Driscoll stated that his move into retirement could not have gone any better, per BBC Sport:
It's exactly as I would have wanted. It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner. We have had so many second places down through the years. It's great to finish on a high in my last game in this magnificent jersey.
It's a magnificent feeling. When it properly sinks in tomorrow when we get home and I'm able to reflect upon it, I'm sure there will be a few tears. There were a few tears earlier on when [coach] Joe [Schmidt] gave his team talk. It was quite emotional.
Playing in his final major tournament, O'Driscoll also spoke of how the game has developed into a more fast-paced battle, as seen against France, and in particular from the likes of Mathieu Bastareaud:
It was last-leg stuff and I know now why I'm packing it in because 80 minutes is a long bloody time at international level, particularly with guys like Mathieu Bastareaud running at you - it's no fun.
The future remains uncertain on O'Driscoll's non-playing career but after victory in the Stade de France, no doubt plenty of time will be spent watching back his side's memorable title win.
Not just for the exiting man but for the nation as a whole and—most importantly—for Ireland's future stars, who have seen O'Driscoll set the bar for what they can, and must, achieve.
Despite one missed opportunity for points from a dead-ball situation, Jonathan Sexton's importance in Ireland's title win was unparalleled.
The Racing Metro fly-half used his boot to good effect once again as he kicked two conversions and one penalty, while weighing in with two of the side's tries on the day, to signal victory.
However, it wasn't all plain sailing for Sexton, who had to be stretchered off during the second half after a mammoth tackle from Bastareaud left the 28-year-old unable to continue.
The fly-half received good news though, as he was able to enjoy his side's title success after scoring 17 points in the final, as tweeted by RTE Rugby:
With O'Driscoll saying goodbye to international rugby and, with a ready-made talisman set to take over his mantle, the future is bright for Ireland so long as they have committed stars like Sexton.
Italy National Team
You know that you have had a bad tournament when you can out-score the team above you but still fail to pick up a single win.
The Azzurri slumped to a pointless defeat in this year's contest and, for a 10th time, picked up the wooden spoon as the unit failed to show any winning instinct and longevity.
Jacques Brunel's side came close to recording victory over Scotland—and would have thought it was sewn up—but Duncan Weir's last-minute drop goal put paid to any hopes of victory.
Perhaps the biggest contribution to the event was the 11 points scored against England which, following the contest, were the difference in the title race as Ireland recorded a 10-point win over Stuart Lancaster's side.
In truth, very few would have given the Italians a chance of winning the Six Nations.
But to bow out in that fashion would have been disappointing to not only Brunel and the players but also to the nation.
Wales' 51-3 victory over Scotland highlighted just how good Wales can be and just why the side were hotly tipped for a third successive Six Nations title.
But for Warren Gatland, the tournament presented itself as justification as to why you should let your side do the talking on the pitch.
Ahead of the match with England, Gatland said that it would be “men against boys” as his Wales side travelled to London, per Daily Mail's Rob Wildman, but Wales found a formidable opponent at Twickenham.
England went on to beat Wales 29-18 to clinch the Triple Crown, with victory keeping Lancaster's men in contention for the Six Nations title.
But the only thing that Gatland seemed to pick up from the tournament was reason to allow his stars to speak with their performances, than place himself in the spotlight.
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