England fans swing low for Six Nations 'decider'
SOME of English rugby's most dedicated supporters began to arrive on Irish soil last night for the game they dubbed the "the match that will decide the Six Nations".
With thousands more England fans set to arrive today by sea and sky, the scene is set for one of rugby's oldest grudge matches with both teams on course for a Grand Slam this season.
Hotels and pubs around the city are expecting a multi-million euro boost from the clash at the Aviva Stadium at 3pm tomorrow.
Ireland held on to a lead last week to defeat Wales 30-22, while England comfortably dispatched the Scots.
Tickets are like gold dust, but Dublin Airport last night saw some of the first ticketed – and dedicated – fans arrive.
Several members of the Dorset Gladiators rugby club – who are veterans of several Six Nations – flew in from Bournemouth and were clear about who they thought would win.
One fan, Mark Andrews, was so confident of English victory that he was willing to put money on it. "I will pay a fiver to every Irishman I see after the game if England lose," he vowed.
"Don't misquote me on this one," before suggesting that it was his friend Ed Taylor that made the hasty pledge.
Meanwhile, Ed said: "My prediction for the game is that England will win 20-16. This is the championship decider we believe."
The Gladiators said they had been on the last four Lions rugby tours and said they will be travelling to Australia for this year's tour "subject to wives' permission".
And while they were adamant that England will win tomorrow, they wanted an Irishman to captain the Lions team later this year.
Mark is backing Ulster's Rory Best for captain while Ed is hoping Leinster legend Brian O'Driscoll will take up the role on the trip Down Under.
Kim Bielenberg: Page 30 six nations special: sport, 70-75