6 Nations 2018 Championship – Friendship, Honour, Respect & A Lot of Fun

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!

French fans appear in Dublin, outside the stadium where Ireland are about to play Wales!
French fans appear in Dublin, outside the stadium where Ireland are about to play Wales!

Intense Battles

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.

Ireland v Wales was an extraordinarily exciting game of rugby
Ireland v Wales was an extraordinarily exciting game of rugby

Handshakes 

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.

Irish and Scottish Fans celebrate together
Irish and Scottish Fans celebrate together

 

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.

 

 

Ireland defend the try line
Ireland defend the try line

England and Ireland shaking hands
England and Ireland shaking hands

 

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

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.

Firework celebrations as Ireland receive the 2018 Nat West 6 Nations trophy
Firework celebrations as Ireland receive the 2018 Nat West 6 Nations trophy
Ireland celebrate winning the 2018 Nat West 6 Nations Trophy , the Grand Slam and the Triple Crown
Ireland celebrates winning the 2018 Nat West 6 Nations Trophy, the Grand Slam, and the Triple Crown

 

 

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!

Peter O'Mahoney gives Jennifer his 6 Nations Winner's medal
Peter O’Mahoney gives Jennifer Malone his 6 Nations Winner’s medal

 

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 Irealnd's victory with Irish fans all over London

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.

An empty street
We go home & dream dreams of what might happen next year

 

 

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.

 

More rugby sportsmanship stories

 

Become a Great Sportsmanship Ambassador

 

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.  

5 thoughts on “6 Nations 2018 Championship – Friendship, Honour, Respect & A Lot of Fun

  1. Absolutely brilliant, the whole 6N. Paddy’s Day in Twickers.
    Grandslam. Championship. Triple Crown.!!! How can you beat that? Mayo winning Sam?

    • The last team to win an All Ireland Final (Gaelic Football) in the last millenium – none other than the mighty Mayo!

  2. These are great images of a memorable and unforgettable 6 Nations. I love them all and it would be hard to pick a favourite.
    Cliff Morgan once said that rugby should not be all about winning, but how the game is played.
    From these images it seems that even in this professiional era it is still possible for rugby to be played in this spirit.

    • Absolutely right Ollie. Rugby still oozes respect and friendship amongst opponents – even the most fierce of rivals.

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