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green reward Ireland’s €2.3m incentive to end Six Nations campaign on a high by beating old enemy

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CJ Stander will play his final game for Ireland in Dublin today. Photo: Sportsfile

CJ Stander will play his final game for Ireland in Dublin today. Photo: Sportsfile

CJ Stander will play his final game for Ireland in Dublin today. Photo: Sportsfile

The IRFU will be crossing their fingers that Andy Farrell’s Ireland team deliver a result against England today.

As Wales go for the Grand Slam in tonight’s likely title decider against France in Paris, the teams that go head to head at the Aviva Stadium are playing for pride and prize money.

Depending on results, Ireland can finish anywhere from second to fifth in this year’s tournament and defeat would condemn them to a first bottom-half finish since 2013.

That would have big financial ramifications. The union would collect an estimated €4m if Ireland win with a bonus point and results elsewhere see them finish second, while there is €2.9m on offer for third place, €2.3m for fourth and €1.75m for fifth.

Today’s match will be the 11th successive international to take place behind closed doors since the pandemic began a year ago and the impact of the absence of crowds has been substantial.

The IRFU reported a loss of €37.5m last season and recently chief executive Philip Browne said it is on track to lose €29m if crowds are not permitted to return in 2021.

So, the union could do with every penny of prize money on offer.

Farrell and his team are also looking to send retiring back-row CJ Stander off on a high in what is expected to be his final match for Ireland.

“He’s been incredibly impressive,” defence coach Simon Easterby said of the blindside flanker.

“He’s been very low-maintenance, not someone you have to deal with too much not only because he’s a great team-mate but he’s a great person. He’s enjoyable to coach because he wants to go out and perform and correct things if there’s things over the last couple of years that we’ve spoken about in his game that he’s trying to improve on.

“Very rarely do you have to speak to him twice about something. He takes it on board, goes away and tries to correct those things. He’s been a great team-mate. He’s been really enjoyable to coach and we’ll miss him.

“He’s brought a huge amount to us as a team over the last five or six seasons and him leaving will galvanise somebody to come in and try to replicate some of the work that CJ’s done over the last few years.

“He is a good man and I suppose he’s leaving his imprint and his mark on this Irish team in a positive way and that’s all you can ask of anybody that comes into a team and serves it with such distinction like he has done for 51 caps.”

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