Ireland's rugby squad will return home to a heroes' welcome today
Sunday, 22 March 2009 09:59
Ireland's rugby squad will return home to a heroes' welcome today after their historic Six Nations win in which they clinched their first Grand Slam in 61 years.
Declan Kidney's men sealed the clean sweep after narrowly beating Wales in a nail-biting match that ended 17-15.
Celebrations erupted across the country last night as revellers toasted the memorable win.
A civic reception will be held for the team in the heart of Dublin this afternoon, outside the Mansion House in a specially erected stage.
Ireland has won the Six Nations grand slam for the first time since 1948.
The final score at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium was 17-15.
Tries from man of the match Brian O'Driscoll and Tommy Bowe, both within six minutes after the interval, put Ireland on course for victory.
In rugby union, a Grand Slam occurs when one team in the Six Nations Championship manages to beat all the others during one year's competition or when a touring side from one of the Southern Hemisphere nations plays and defeats all four Home Nations sides in a single tour.
Ireland ended a 61-year wait for Grand Slam glory and landed their first RBS 6 Nations title after dethroning Wales at the Millennium Stadium in dramatic fashion.
The Irish also added a Triple Crown for good measure after recovering from a 6-0 interval deficit.
But they were forced to hang on amid a nerve-shredding climax as Wales fly-half Stephen Jones missed a 50-metre penalty with the game`s final kick.
As Rugby may be unknown to many I have included some extra information:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rugby union is a competitive outdoor contact sport, played with an oval ball, by two teams of 15 players. It is one of the two codes of rugby football, the other being rugby league. There is also a seven-a-side variant named rugby sevens, which is played under modified laws. Rugby union is often referred to as simply rugby.
The origin of rugby is reputed to be an incident when William Webb-Ellis picked up a soccer ball, during a game of football in 1823 and ran with it, at Rugby School, Rugby, England. Although this tale is likely to be apocryphal, the trophy played for every four years at the Rugby World Cup is named after him.
Significant events in the early development of rugby were the production of the first set of written laws in 1845, the Blackheath Club's decision to leave the The Football Association in 1863 and the formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871.
The code was originally known simply as "rugby football"; it was not until after a schism in 1895, which resulted in the separate code of rugby league, that the name "rugby union" came to be used for the game itself.
Rugby union was famously an amateur sport until the IRB declared the game 'open' in 1995, removing restrictions on payments to players.
Rugby union has established itself as a popular sport for both spectators and participants, particularly in Australia, Argentina, England, Fiji, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Bermuda, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Romania (and Moldova), Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Wales.
Other places with lasting traditions in rugby, albeit as a minority sport in most cases, include Namibia, Zimbabwe, the USA, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Portugal, Spain, Papua New Guinea and numerous African countries.