Sunday 21 July 2019

Jordi Murphy: David Beckham influencing Ireland Wembley date

Jordi Murphy revealed an air of inevitability about David Beckham somehow wangling an influence over Ireland's second-ever rugby match at Wembley Stadium.

Ireland will face Romania at the home of English football in Sunday's Pool D clash in the Rugby World Cup, having spent the week at another soccer stronghold.

Joe Schmidt's side are entrenched in the Football Association's St George's Park training complex, former Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson's £100million brainchild.

Pictures of English soccer greats litter the walls at the FA's world-class training base, with Leinster flanker Murphy rolling eyes when conceding just who covers the paintwork in his hotel room.

"It's Beckham," Murphy said, albeit grudgingly.

"I think my room-mate Sean Cronin is delighted.

"We've tried to take it down!

"Only joking of course, but it's over Sean's bed so he's sleeping well."

Ireland's sole appearance at Wembley to date came in the 1999 Five Nations when Wales staged a takeover of England's famous football ground during the Millennium Stadium development.

New Zealand's clash with Argentina at Wembley on Sunday set a new record World Cup attendance of 89,019.

Whether Ireland can draw inspiration from this week's links to English football remains to be seen, but Rob Kearney cannot wait for a second chance to grace the famed Wembley turf.

"I was lucky enough to play there once already," said Kearney of Leinster's Wembley clash with Saracens in 2010.

"There's so much history and tradition attached to the ground.

"Even looking at it yesterday with New Zealand and Argentina breaking that record, it looked an unbelievable atmosphere - and no one knows how to party at games like the Irish."

PA Media

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