The Reuters global sports blog
Nobody could match the English in Europe and their standards touched those attained by New Zealand and Australia, the pace setters in world rugby at the time.
South of Hadrian’s Wall, the Five Nations championship decider at Murrayfield on March 17 was considered a no contest.
While Scotland were greatly respected in world rugby without being particularly feared, England under Will Carling had made startling progress since their dismal performance at the first World Cup in 1987.
“The naysayers have been silenced for good,” read the lead of the Irish Times sports pages this morning after Leinster finally turned unrivalled potential into serious silverware by edging twice-champions Leicester to the Heineken Cup on Saturday.
After the humiliating semi-final defeat to Munster in 2006, the embarrassingly tame last-four exit to Perpignan three years earlier and only a couple of Celtic League titles either side, a beaming Brian O’Driscoll understandably said he’d been waiting ten years for such a day.