Friday 15 December 2017

Leinster legend Isa Nacewa should get Lord Mayor's Award - Dublin councillor

Leinster's Isa Nacewa
Leinster's Isa Nacewa

Alan O’Keeffe

LEINSTER rugby legend Isa Nacewa should be given a Lord Mayor’s Award to bring home to New Zealand, according to his fans on Dublin City Council.

The remarkably talented Kiwi, who won the hearts of Leinster fans since donning the blue jersey in 2008, should be honoured for his huge contribution to rugby and to the city and province, said Cllr Jim O’Callaghan, a former Leinster star.

“I will be writing to the Lord Mayor proposing he presents Isa with an award for being such a great ambassador for Leinster rugby,” said the Fianna Fail councillor.

“He is a wonderful example of someone coming to Ireland who has contributed so much. The crowds have always loved him,” said Cllr O’Callaghan (45), a second row star for Leinster during the 1990s.

Mr Nacewa announced that it was “a family decision” that he retire with one year left on his contract to return home to New Zealand. He was capped more than 120 times for Leinster, scoring at least a couple of dozen tries.

The call for a Lord Mayor award to be bestowed on the iconic player was echoed by Donnybrook-based Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.

Cllr Lacey said: “Clearly, he deserves such an honour for all he has done in the past few years. He has brought so much joy to the people of Dublin and he has done a great service to sport in Ireland.”

It is not yet known if the move to honour the popular player with a civic award will be successful.

The calls of support for him comes as Nacewa prepares to line out for Leinster against Stade Francais Paris in the Amlin Challenge Cup final in front of 20,000 in the RDS Arena next Friday.

 More than  22,000 overseas fans are set to converge on Dublin on May 17-18  as part of a 70,000 strong contingent which will attend the RDS game and the Heineken Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Ten years after a Heineken Cup decider was last staged in Dublin, ERC’s European club rugby finals are expected to prove a bonanza for Dublin tourism figures.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce have estimated a direct economic dividend to the capital of €21 million based on the overseas visitors alone.

Some 50,000 are expected at the Aviva Stadium  for the heavyweight Heineken Cup final confrontation between the star-studded line-ups of ASM Clermont Auvergne and Toulon.

ERC, which overseas European club rugby,  has entered into a partnership with Dublin City Council to create a European Champions Village fan experience in Dublin  Merrion Square  offering a great opportunity for Dubliners to savour the atmosphere of a major European rugby occasion.

Opening from noon on Heineken Cup final day, the Champions Village will be the focal point for a pre-match and post-match gathering of fans, both local and overseas, serving as a HQ for the colourful supporters of both ASM Clermont Auvergne and RC Toulon with live music, interactive games, a Heineken Cup trophy photo booth, a big screen live broadcast of the match, Heineken bars and local cuisine.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Naoise Ó Muirí said “I look forward to welcoming fans from all corners of Europe to Dublin for this Rugby Weekend....As a keen Leinster fan, I look forward to the Amlin Challenge Cup Final and wish Leinster the very best of luck in their bid to bring another European trophy home to Dublin.”

A grassroots programme to encourage children in non-traditional rugby areas of the Irish capital  will take part in a series of matches in the city over the weekend.

ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath said: “Dublin has proven to be a hugely attractive setting for the European club rugby finals weekend.”

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