Tuesday 20 February 2018

Carol-singing Irish stars in good heart


ANOTHER day, another haka. With the Remarkable Mountains and Lake Wakatipu providing a spectacular backdrop, Ireland were given the full Maori welcome treatment once again yesterday as they received their World Cup caps.

And, once again, nicely led by Denis Leamy, they gave a decent rendition of Jimmy McCarthy's 'Ride On' in response.

Then it was the turn of baggage master Patrick 'Rala' O'Reilly, who was coaxed into giving his version of Celtic Thunder's 'Christmas 1915' after getting his cap.

The song is a haunting ballad about the truce between British and German troops during World War One, but was hijacked by the players who, as soon as they heard the lyric "Silent Night, no cannons roar" launched into a rousing rendition of the traditional Christmas carol.

The squad were in high spirits and if they were looking for inspiration, they could do worse than heed the words of Mayor Vanessa van Uden, who urged them to "do your mammies proud!"

Flannery compared

to Gimli the dwarf

THIS is 'Lord Of The Rings' country -- the films were shot here, director Peter Jackson has a house here and the Irish squad contains more than a few devotees of the epic films.

One of the Irish squad has been (rather unfairly) likened to a character in the trilogy -- Gimli, the loveable, bearded dwarf with a fondness for chopping down orcs.

"Jerry Flannery is like that little fellah with the axe," said Donncha O'Callaghan. "We'll have to dress him up. Can we get that in somehow, a photo of each of them? Brilliant."

Maori insults. With their predilection for issuing challenges, insults are not hard to come by in the Maori language and two of the most common are 'He tino pai nanekoti au!' (You are a big fat goat's ass) and 'Upoko kohua' (Cut off your head and boil it in oil).


"They are all experiences, I learned you can't knee someone in the head -- or try to anyway" -- Jamie Heaslip reflects on the red card he received against the All Blacks last year.

"It's an option if there's an injury, but it's Jonny going to 12 not me! I won't be shifting!" -- Ronan O'Gara on the possibility of playing alongside Jonathan Sexton in midfield.

"When I hear the coach talking like that it reminds me of my wife. She thinks I'm the most handsome guy in the world" -- Springbok captain John Smit responds to Peter de Villiers' description of Smit as "the best hooker in the world".

Number of the day

400 The number of metres Conor Murray and eight of his Irish team-mates dropped at the famous 'run and jump' Ledge Bungee experience in Queenstown.

Irish Independent

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