'It was an electric moment' - Jamie Heaslip reveals how he enjoyed Ireland's Grand Slam win
Watching Ireland’s Grand Slam victory from the stands at Twickenham was a novel but exhilarating experience, says rugby legend Jamie Heaslip.
The former Ireland International who scored a try against Scotland in Ireland’s first Grand Slam victory in 61 years in 2009, said he had no misgivings about watching the historic Paddy’s Day clash as a spectator.
The widely-respected number eight announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 34 last month due to injury and he admits the thrill of watching Ireland create history sent shivers down the spine.
“It was an electric moment,” he said of the historic win. “It was the first time I was at an international - watching it - in a long time and it was a great moment to get caught up in that energy that comes from the crowd.
“When you’re on the field you do feel it. But it’s a different way of experiencing it when you’re in the crowd. Obviously you’d love to be on the field but that’s the hand you’re dealt.
“Having known the players and having been part of that group up until recently, I was really happy for those guys, knowing what they’ve gone through, knowing what they’ve been chasing for a long time.
“I was really proud of that group and also really, really happy for them."
Ireland may have been playing away from home on Saturday, but Heaslip suggested it felt like an Irish crowd celebrating at English rugby HQ at the final whistle.
“I’d say it was the other way in terms of support, if not more, which was amazing,” he said. “That’s the one great thing about Irish people and representing Ireland, we are a very proud nation and no matter where we play in the world, the support we get is unrivalled by any nation.
“Even in England’s backyard, to win the Grand Slam on Paddy’s weekend, it was a great moment.”
He made the comments at a press conference in Dublin yesterday in which the former International Rugby Players Association announced it is moving its headquarters to Dublin from Auckland, New Zealand.
The move coincides with the world representative body for professional rugby players re-branding itself International Rugby Players.
The organisation’s new CEO Omar Hassanein said the move to the Irish capital will make it easier to facilitate meetings with World Rugby and other governing bodies on a regular basis.
“There has never been a more important time for players to have a stronger voice in the game,” he stated.
“They need recognition as major stakeholders in all decisions that affect the game and we’ll be working hard to influence and affect that change.”