Ireland picked up a third consecutive Six Nations win on Saturday as they defeated England 32-18 in the final round of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
While all victories over England are cherished, this game will be remembered as CJ Stander’s last in a green jersey as he announced his retirement at the season’s end.
Irish Head Coach Andy Farrell paid tribute to the back rower post match, praising him for he dedication to the Irish set up since his debut in 2016.
“I’ve just said to him in the changing rooms there that he can be as emotional as he wants to be now, because he’s given his heart and soul to the jersey.
“To the green one and to the red one, and he has a chance to play in a cup final for Munster there next week. We wish him all the best with that. It has been an emotional week, we’ve tried to keep a lid on it as best we can.
“You can say whether we should have brought that out or not, but it was fitting that CJ was able to say goodbye to his friends and tell them the truth.
“Where he was coming from, the reasons why, etc. How they’ve responded to him and how he’s kept a smile on his face, has been totally fitting to what this team is about.
“We’re delighted that we’re able to put a performance together for CJ, to send him off in the right way. We’re delighted that we’ve managed to control the emotion in the right way.
“He’s emotional in the changing rooms, but a happy emotional. I can’t say enough about him as a bloke. He’s the most kind-hearted, most genuine bloke that you’ll ever meet. He’ll be a mate forever.”
Irish captain Johnny Sexton was quick to echo Farrell’s sentiments paying tribute to Stander as he outlined how his final appearance was a driving force behind the performance.
“That was a huge motivator. We’ve got some coaches that motivate us incredibly well every week. Obviously CJ’s last game was a big one.
“But the big driver for me, as I said, was just getting the win that we felt we deserved. The performance that we felt we deserved. We got a performance that we felt we deserved today.”