The 2018 6 Nations Rugby was an exciting contest full of great rugby and wonderful sportsmanship moments. Here’s a few……
Fans Have Fun
I am in Dublin for the Ireland v Wales 6 Nations match. It’s a big game. Two exciting teams. Both with a point to prove. As I walk down to Lansdowne Road’s Aviva Stadium, I see lots of Welsh Fans proudly wearing their red shirts and waving their wonderful Welsh Dragon flags (see Welsh fans are wonderful). I also see lots of Irish leprechauns, green jumpsuits, tricolour flags and then I see this………..French fans walking along Lansdowne Road (see the translucent glass on the Aviva Stadium on the left), 20 minutes before kick off!
So many games in this year’s 6 Nations were so close. The very last game, between Italy and Scotland ended with Scotland winning by 2 points after being behind for most of the game. Ireland’s 83rd minute drop-goal against France saved Ireland from defeat in Paris. The Ireland v Wales game was a thrilling encounter between two very good teams. What a battle. Right up to the last few minutes, Wales could have won it. Even the French commentator and former French captain, Serge Betsen, said the best game in the tournament was Ireland v Wales.
The post-match handshake is mandatory in rugby. It’s a simple, yet, great thing. Watch Irish and Welsh players line up to shake hands and occasionally embrace each other as soon as the final whistle has been blown.
Ireland v Wales – post-match handshake. The magical post-match handshake and the odd hug between players who, moments earlier were sworn opponents. Honour & Friendship prevail. Incidentally, there was lovely moment before the game, as the players were warming up, the Irish coach Joe Schmidt and the Welsh coach (former Connaught and Ireland coach), Warren Gatland, met on the pitch, shook hands with big smiles and chatted for a few minutes.
Excitement, Expectation and Magnificence
This is what it feels like when entering Lansdowne Road’s Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, minutes before Ireland v Scotland game kicks off. Some say it’s like a ‘stairway to heaven’ with two smiling high viz angel stewards welcoming us all into a wonderful, almost mystical event.
Opposition Fans Celebrate Matches Together
The great thing about rugby is the camaraderie that exists between opposing fans. Here are some Scottish lads (one with an Irish scarf) having a chat and some fun after the game with Irish fans.
Entering Twickenham Stadium (on St. Patrick’s Day)
Having beaten France, Italy, Wales & Scotland, Ireland marched on Fortress Twickenham to try and win the Triple Crown and Grand Slam (having already secured the 6 Nations Championship). Another fantastic game, with a lot of tries and, once again, right up to the 77th minute England were pressing Ireland.
Magical Moment of Honour from England’s Fullback
On the 77th minute, England’s Mike Brown was about to score a try for England to open the game up with 3 mins left on the clock, when he was brilliantly tackled by Ireland’s Sean Cronin pushing him into touch. The referee called for video help. Mike Brown sat on the ground – knowing he’d been tackled into touch. He knew it. The crowd didn’t but Brown did. Note: Brown is an extremely competitive player. As Cronin got up, Brown, still sitting on the grass, gave him a friendly tap on the backside, congratulating Cronin on the exquisite tackle, which some say, finally secured Ireland’s Grand Slam.
Players, Substitutes and Backroom People are All Part of the Team
After receiving the Nat West 6 Nations Championship Trophy on the podium, the Irish captain, Rory Best, stood on the podium with his arm around Sean Cronin (who competes with RoryBest for the same hooker position every game for several years now). Even between internal competitors, there was a great feeling of unity and warmth of friendship amongst the whole squad. Rory Best also acknowledged during his speech, that it was the squad i.e. the players, the subs and also the backroom team that helped Ireland to win the Triple Crown, 6 Nations Championship and the Grand Slam 2018.
Everyone works together in a team or squad
English Coach Congratulates Irish Team
Even the England manager, Eddie Jones, who had previously made some prematch unsporting comments, redeemed himself by openly apologising and subsequently, immediately after the match, he congratulated Ireland graciously when he said ‘Ireland were very worthy Grand Slam Winners’. This meant a lot to all the Irish fans.
A Pure Act Of Kindness, Generosity & Friendship
So, Ireland won the Grand Slam beating England 24 – 15 at Twickenham. It was a special night for all those associated with Ireland because it was St Patrick’s day too. There would have been many memorable pictures taken from the weekend but none more special than this one. Peter O’Mahony gave his 6 nations medal to young fan, Jennifer Malone. Jennifer is a big fan and attends matches and training sessions whenever she can. What a reward for her loyalty!
English Fans Congratulate Irish Fans
All the English players and fans were outstanding in their warm congratulations that went on all night long, in arguably our finest St Patrick’s Day.
England fans celebrate Ireland’s victory with Irish fans all over London
Irish fans will never forget the 2018 Grand Slam – the stuff of dreams for a small country. And then we all (all 6 Nations fans) go home, dream more dreams and try to do it all over again next year. One thing is for sure, The Nat West 6 Nations is such fun. Roll on 2019.
Tell us your sportsmanship story
Please do tell us your sportsmanship stories from the 2018 Nat West 6 Nations Rugby Championship, and we’ll add them to this post. Just add a comment in the ‘Leave a reply’ space below.
The Matt Hampson Foundation – this is where Petar Cvetkovic sent the few bob we raised during the Eng v Irl game – to its inspirational ‘Get Busy Living’ Centre which opened this year and now supports seriously injured rugby players, who, just, weren’t as lucky, as we all were, when we played rugby.