Higgins lauds rugby team on ‘St Patrick’s Day never to be forgotten’

President leads tributes to Grand Slam champions ahead of homecoming

Ireland captain Rory Best  lifts the Six Nations trophy after they clinched the Grand Slam by beating England 24-15 at Twickenham. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

Ireland captain Rory Best lifts the Six Nations trophy after they clinched the Grand Slam by beating England 24-15 at Twickenham. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

 

President Michael D Higgins led the tributes to Ireland’s Grand Slam champions on “a St Patrick’s Day never to be forgotten”.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Mr Higgins congratulated the Ireland rugby team for their “fantastic achievement” in defeating England at Twickenham to seal the Six Nations Grand Slam.

He said the victory was a “source of encouragement, not only for the team and their coaches, but for all of us who enjoy and support Irish sport”.

“Today’s performance and the tremendous team effort throughout the tournament have ensured that this superb Irish team have secured a place in sporting history and they will be remembered for generations to come.

“Their example of what is possible when talent, skill, commitment and hard work combine with creativity and flair will inspire countless young people to take up sport and seek to challenge themselves.

“As President of Ireland, I congratulate the team, the coaching staff and all those who have supported the players and thank them for the wonderful memory they have gifted us on what will be a St Patrick’s Day never to be forgotten by all those who appreciate excellence in sport and matters Irish.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was an amazing day and tweeted a photograph of himself with the co-founder Georgetown women’s rugby football club in Washington.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross, who was in London for the match, also congratulated the side saying it was “the sweetest of victories to the greatest of teams”.

There will be an official homecoming for Joe Schmidt’s team at 4.30pm on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium. Tickets for the event can be got on Ticketmaster.

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