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Saturday 24 March 2018

Over one in ten Irish rugby fans admit they’d like to claim Mike Brown for Ireland

Mike Brown of England runs in their second try
Mike Brown of England runs in their second try

Following the showdown between Ireland and England in the RBS 6 Nations last weekend, it has been revealed, despite his on-pitch antics, that over one in ten Irish fans would like to claim Mike Brown for Ireland!

Topping the poll with a third of the votes was Welshman Leigh Halfpenny while English captain, Dylan Hartley, was perhaps unsurprisingly in the relegation zone with just 3% of the votes.

Also revealed today in a survey by Ulster Bank, sponsors of club rugby in Ireland, was our favourite ever Ireland v England moment with the 2007 national anthems playing in Croke Park topping the board. The famous moment secured over a third of the votes with Shane Horgan’s try at Twickenham in 2006 coming a close second with 25%.

And staying with the home nations, the Scottish came out on top when respondents were asked who were the best fans to interact with (44%) while the Welsh came a close second (38%). The annual survey generated 1,172 responses from every county across the island of Ireland.

The Ulster Bank Rugby survey also revealed the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as our favourite away venue in the RBS 6 Nations with half of the votes. Scotland’s Murrayfield came second with 25%. Despite our differences of opinion with Warren Gatland on dropping Brian O’Driscoll on the Lions tour it seems we’re still fans. Asked if we had to choose one of the other RBS 6 Nations coaches, Gatland secured 40% of the votes with Eddie Jones coming second (32%), despite his recent comments.

In one of the more light-hearted moments of 2015, Luke Fitzgerald’s ‘fresh-air’ golf shot in front of the world’s number one golfer, Rory McIlroy, during the Rugby World Cup was voted as our favourite social media moment of the year. With almost half a million views on YouTube the Irish back had over 40% of the votes while the priceless image of Paul O’Connell enjoying a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers made second place. 

Rory McIlroy also featured in the survey but claimed last place when fans were asked what Irish person from another sporting discipline would make a good addition to the Irish rugby team. Rory received just 2% of the votes while Dublin GAA star Bernard Brogan beat off both Conor McGregor and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea with a third of the votes. If McGregor was to ever take up the sport respondents thought he would make a great scrum-half (43%).

Moving from MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) to WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was voted as the international celebrity who would make the best rugby player (32%) while English actor Jason Statham also made the list with a fifth of the votes. Asked if an Irish actor was to play Johnny Sexton’s life story, a quarter of respondents thought Cillian Murphy fitted the bill with Colin Farrell a close second.

When it comes to our love of Paul O’Connell, his recent retirement has only cemented his place in history. O’Connell managed to claim two titles in this year’s Ulster Bank Rugby survey; retired player from the past five years to make the best coach (48%) and the forward we would bring back from the last 20 years (54%) beating off Keith Wood (23%), Stephen Ferris (8%) and John ‘The Bull’ Hayes (5%).

Unsurprisingly Brian O’Driscoll was voted as the back we would like to see return to the team with two thirds of the vote and even though Ronan O’Gara also featured on the list with 13% he fared better in the coach’s stakes with a fifth of fans thinking he would make the best coach of retired players in the past five years.

Irish fans were also asked what they thought of the rising talent in the country with four players claiming the title for their respective provinces, Jack O’Donoghue (Munster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) and Ultan Dillane (Connacht).

When it comes to watching a match nothing gets in the way with the respondents admitting to; ignoring their phone and the doorbell (51%), cancelling plans with their partner (22%), avoiding family members (22%) and even calling in sick to work (5%).

This is the third year of the Ulster Bank Rugby survey as Ulster Bank continue their longstanding support of rugby in Ireland. Ulster Bank will remain the title sponsors of the All-Ireland League until 2018 as well as Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU.

For more information go to

Here is an infographic with the full survey results:

Ulster Bank Rugby Survey Infographic
Ulster Bank Rugby Survey Infographic

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