Monday 18 March 2019

The Aviva has retained the flavour of the old Lansdowne Road - Austin Healey

The atmosphere during Ireland's narrow defeat to the All Blacks in 2013 was unforgettable
The atmosphere during Ireland's narrow defeat to the All Blacks in 2013 was unforgettable

Former English flyhalf Austin Healey has been describing the atmosphere of all the Six Nations venues and he was very complimentary of the Aviva Stadium.

Healey, who is half-Irish, enjoyed mixed days at the old Lansdowne Road and feels the Dublin 4 venue has retained it's magic since it was rebuilt as the Aviva Stadium.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Healey said: "Lansdowne Road was a cracking stadium and the night out was always good value whatever the result. I am glad that the Aviva has retained the flavour of the old Lansdowne Road.

"I made my debut there in 1997 and we absolutely battered Ireland."

Healey was very complimentary of the Irish players and support: "Whatever the result, you can guarantee the Irish to take the result with dignity, go out afterwards and have a good craic.

"That’s what marks out the Irish in terms of their ability to play sport, watch sport, be passionate about sport but still remember at the end of the day that it is just sport and you can always have a pint afterwards.

"The intensity on the field was pretty good, not too intimidating but physically always very challenging. The Irish would come out like a bunch of crazed beasts and try to beat you up in the first 20 minutes so you had to brace yourself for that storm."

Healey recalls an incident in Cardiff where some Welsh fans were not quite so dignified: "There is one story that stands out for me, after the first England v Wales game at the Millennium Stadium in 2001.

"We thrashed them and were driving into the town centre. The police escort had gone because it was happy hour and suddenly the bus was surrounded by 250,000 people.

"There were guys throwing beer bottles and kebabs at us. One guy took a run up as we were moving and headbutted the front of the bus. It was only after our head of security made an emergency call that some police showed up to get us out of there."

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