Flybe, the largest airline operating out of George Best Belfast City Airport, has paid a unique tribute to the 1974 British & Irish Lions squad.
'The Invincibles', a specially named Q400 aircraft, has been unveiled in the presence of the squad members including captain Willie John McBride, by Fred Kochak, Flybe Routes Director, accompanied by Andrea Hayes, Flybe's Regional Manager North.
The legendary players, who were flown in from Scotland, England and Wales by Flybe, lined up to watch the unveiling and included Fran Cotton, Alan Morley, JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Andy Irvine, Alan Old, Roger Uttley, Gareth Edwards, JJ Williams, Phil Bennett and Billy Steele.
The Irish stars comprised Willie John, Syd Millar, Mike Gibson, Fergus Slattery, Tom Grace, Jonny Moloney, Stewart McKinney and Dick Milliken.
Fred Kochak explained: "In May 1974 a squad of 34 rugby players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales formed the British & Irish Lions squad to travel to South Africa. They were to play against a country not beaten in 78 years.
"When they returned in July 1974, having won 21 of their 22 matches and drawing the other, they returned as 'the Invincibles' and are widely regarded as the greatest northern Hemisphere side of all time.
"Their passion, commitment and determination is legendary and we are delighted to make our own unique tribute to what they achieved and the values they continue to represent.
"Dedicating an aircraft to such sporting icons is our special way of saying congratulations and a thank you to 'the Invincibles'. As she flies across the Flybe route network, we hope that 'the Invincibles' will act as an inspiration to others."
From today the Flybe Q400 OE will feature a life size image of Willie John McBride framed within a set of rugby posts. Below the cross bar are listed the 34 names of the full 1974 British & Irish Lions squad. Alongside the image is the new name of the aircraft, 'the Invincibles'.
Flybe has previously named five other aircraft to honour local sporting heroes - George Best and Mary Peters in Belfast, Kevin Keegan in Newcastle, Matt Le Tissier in Southampton and Adam Stansfield in Exeter.
A first ever win over the Springboks in South Africa, four new caps, and all 32 players getting game-time. From Cape Town to Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, it was a tour to remember for Joe Schmidt's men, despite a frustrating finish and a 2-1 series loss.
The Ireland Under-20 squad can look back on their campaign in Manchester with huge pride, having achieved a best ever finish of second at a World Rugby U-20 Championship and become the first Irish national men's team to beat a New Zealand side. Number 8 Max Deegan was also crowned the Player of the Tournament and four forwards - Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney, James Ryan and Deegan - were picked for the Championship's Dream Team.
Tournament Director Garrett Tubridy sets the scene for an exciting weekend of rugby at UCD where 16 Women's Sevens teams will battle it out at for one qualifying spot for the Rio Olympics. Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie/sevens.
Tadhg Furlong reflects on a disappointing day for Ireland against South Africa. However, he will take positives from his first Test start and be ready to build for the final match of the series in Port Elizabeth.
Paddy Jackson is preparing for Ireland's second Test against South Africa on Saturday (kick-off 5pm local time/4pm Irish time). The Ulster out-half has been checking out Ellis Park in advance of the match.
Nicole Cronin, the inaugural Irish Women's Sevens Player of the Year in 2014, is looking to make an impact on her return to the green jersey at this weekend's Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series in Kazan, Russia.
The Ireland Women's 15-a-side captain Niamh Briggs was part of the Irish Development team that won the Amsterdam 7s title recently. Next up is the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in Kazan, Russia this weekend and then a shot at Olympic Sevens qualification at UCD on June 25-26.
Experienced prop Andrew Porter speaks about the Ireland Under-20s' preparations for the World Rugby U-20 Championship and their opening pool encounter with Wales in Manchester later today (kick-off 5.30pm, live on TG4/Sky Sports 1).