...Former Leinster and Ireland back row great Victor Costello...
FormerIreland internationals Victor Costello and Tony Ward shared theirLansdowne Road memories on a special edition of RTI's Drivetime Sport this week. The show, set up by the Irish Rugby Supporters Club, was taped at Lansdowne and attended by some lucky members of the Supporters Club.
"It was certainlyspecial running out at Lansdowne Road. It's every schoolboy's dream.Iwas very lucky, the first couple of years we played we won the LeinsterSenior Cup, but probably the most important year when I was captain, wedidn't.
"I remember looking up during a semi-final, it was a repeatsemi-final, Danny Rock was captain on the other side and I was captainfor Blackrock. With about ten minutes to go, I remember looking at mymother and I felt like saying to her: 'you're not going to be wearingthe hat next week mum!'
"That was kind of a low point for us at a very young age, but we cameback and won it the next year. It was a good lesson in the ups anddowns of rugby.
"The first international game I played at Lansdowne Road would have been coming outagainst Scotland in 1996. It was a very special time, my first cap was in the States but playing at Lansdowne Road was obviously very special as thelast time I played there would have been at schools level.
"I came on as a sub. We lost narrowly but it certainly was a great experience.
"The try I remember (scoring at Lansdowne) was the one against Wales (in 1998) from the scrum. I wasnormally good at running a couple of yards, but not too good at runningmany yards! I baled over a couple of guys and got bearhugged by Reggie Corrigan and did something to my back. We talked about it over a coupleof pints afterwards and are still talking about it.
"I suppose when I was growing up it was always great to see David Campeseplay at Lansdowne Road, he played here for New South Wales andAustralia. He was probably the best player I've seen at Lansdowne.
"(On the redevelopment) we've got to have some progression, obviouslypeople are sad about Lansdowne Road and moving on and obviously I'm thesame having played here, butprogression is what it's all about. If you look at the Irish team these days they're not accepting mediocrity so neither should we."
...The line-up of greats, including legendary Munster, Ireland and Lions out-half Tony Ward (far left), who kept the Irish Rugby Supporters Club and RTI Radio 1 listeners intrigued with their memories of Lansdowne Road...
"My first trip to Lansdowne for an international was a happymemory. It was the 1970 Ireland-Wales game. I was down at the Havelock Square end when Ken Goodall chipped and scored his try.
The other one I remember was Alan 'Dixie' Dugganand his famous try in thecorner (in the same game). I think there's a photograph from that gamedown in a pub in Roscrea with a spectator with his arms out and Dixiediving for the corner.
"1972 was my first time playing here (at Lansdowne). We played High School in thesemi-final of the cup, we had a particularly good team - I was captainof the Mary's side - we had beaten everybody that year. The High Schoolside had John Robbie at scrum half and Ian Burns at out-half and theybeat us 10-9. That was a huge disappointment and it never left me, it'salways been there.
"First game for Ireland was against Scotland in '78, we won 12-9. It wasthe first game of the season I remember, we were 12-9 ahead and their scrum half Douglas Morgan, whowent on to manage Scotland, had a penalty down at the Havelock Squareend to equalise the game, but Scotland wanted to win the triple crownand he ran it. We defended and hetook some stick back in Scotland from that game.
"It's probably the most difficult ground to kick at in the world. It'snigh on impossible to read the wind here, behind both stands, the windblows all over the place. Downone end of the field you've got the flags blowing one direction. Youlook at the Wanderers end and they're blowing the opposite way.
"It's very, very difficult to judge and for a full-back it's anightmare. You were acutely aware of that, as an outside half if youstuck the ballup in the air it was likely to go anywhere.
"The first game I ever attended here was a Schools Cup final between Mary's and Newbridge in 1966, and my own personal hero was playing thatday - he's sadly long passed away. Shay Deering, he was captain of thatside.
"(On the best player I've seen at Lansdowne) I just found watching (Welsh winger) TGR Davies, Gerald Davies, brilliant. I just thought he was magic. I played against him a few times which was just a fantasticthrill. He had that ability to sidestep off either foot and at pace, and he was just magic on legs.
"It's a very nostalgic day this Sunday. I know we've got a couple of Leinster games to go yet before we moved on but it was a great ground, a unique ground. We've all got fantasticmemories from here and it holds such a special place in the hearts and mindsof Irish people everywhere."
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