LO CICERO'S LOWDOWN: Having warmed the bench for the entirety of Italy's 26-16 defeat by Ireland on Saturday, L'Aquila prop Andrea Lo Cicero was not in a particularly happy mood when penning his latest diary piece for Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Reliving his Lansdowne Road experience, the Siclian strong man said: "Even in my coveralls, I felt a chill not just because of the cool Dublin air but from not being able to play at the famous Lansdowne Road for the last time before it is redeveloped.
"I felt angry too - our anthem was cut short in order to make time for the two Irish anthems. For me, it just seemed like a lack of respect for Italy, its tradition and its history. Fortunately, our fans, who were brilliant again, sung our anthem a few times during the game and that was great - very emotional.
"We always believed we could beat Ireland - the conviction was there before kick-off and at half-time in the dressing room. It wasn't to be but there was definitely a doubt about Ireland's second try. My team mates were asking for the TV official, but the referee awarded it straight away. If he hadn't, then perhaps the result would have been different."
MULLIN STEPS DOWN AS IRISH CHAIRMAN: Former Ireland and Lions centre Brendan Mullin has stepped down from his position as Chairman of Guinness Premiership club London Irish.
Mullin, who played for Ireland between 1984 and 1995, was appointed as Chairman in January 2003, and is being succeeded by former Vice-Chairman John Conlan.
Mullin, Ireland's record try scorer (17) until Brian O'Driscoll scored his 18th against Italy in February 2003, said: "I have been Chairman for three years and in that time we have come a long way in the understanding and management of our business and key factors within the industry.
"Two consecutive years of profitability, an unbroken record of being in the top flight of rugby in England and a growing franchise are testament to a lot of good work in that time," added the 42-year-old, who will continue as a board member at Irish.
UNDER-21 TICKETS AVAILABLE: Tickets for the Ireland Under-21s' next 6 Nations home game against last year's champions Wales on Friday, February 24, are already on sale.
Last Friday night saw Dubarry Park host the first of three ESB U-21 Internationals this season as Ireland beat Italy 34-9 in their 6 Nations opener. Upwards of 3,000 spectators attended that clash and even more are expected to attend the Welsh tie at the midlands venue. Both RTE and BBC Wales are covering the game live.
Terrace and Ground tickets are currently available at Musicworld in the Golden Island Shopping Centre in Athlone (Tel: 090-6474372). Tickets, including Family and Group packages, can also be bought at The Bounty (contact Geraldine at Tel: 0861732711). Please not that access to the Administration office at Dubarry Park is via the side door on the car park side at The Bounty. Stand tickets are available at present but early purchase is recommended.
POWERADE TOWNS CUP DRAW: Ulster and Ireland scrum half Kieran Campbell was on hand at Ravenhill on Monday afternoon to assist with the draw for the quarter-finals of the Powerade Towns Cup.
The draw was as follows: Limavady v Ballymoney, Clogher Valley v Portadown, Magherafelt v Coleraine, Carrickfergus v Enniskillen (all ties to be played on Saturday, February 18)