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.
We spoke to Leinster and Ireland winger Dave Kearney after the Captain's Run at Thomond Park as he prepares to take on some familiar faces and some well-capped stars when the Ireland XV play the Barbarians.
Leinster prop Tadhg Furlong is one of two uncapped players in the Ireland XV starting team to play the Barbarians. We caught up with the young prop at Thomond Park as he prepares to pull on the green jersey.
Jamie Heaslip will captain the Ireland XV against the Barbarians at Thomond Park on Thursday. He spoke to Irish Rugby TV about facing the star-studded visitors and the battle he is relishing with his Leinster colleague Shane Jennings, who captains the Baa Baas.
Ireland Under-20 head coach Nigel Carolan has likened the World Rugby Under-20 Championship to 'a mini Six Nations in three weeks'. His side take on Argentina in their tournament opener in Parma next Tuesday.
Ireland Under-20 backs Nick McCarthy and Garry Ringrose and Feargal O'Rourke from team sponsors PwC spoke to Irish Rugby TV as the squad prepare for the World Rugby U-20 Championship which starts next week in Italy.
We caught up with Sean O'Brien at the Canterbury Ireland training kit launch where he spoke about next week's Barbarians game, the build-up to the Rugby World Cup and 'moving forward' with Leinster next season.
We caught up with Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald at the launch of the new Canterbury Ireland training kit. He spoke about his recovery from shoulder surgery and his aim to be fit for the Guinness Summer Series games in August.
Ireland Men's Sevens squad member Matthew D'Arcy is gearing up for a 'long and tough season' of Sevens rugby this summer. "It's very exciting (to be involved), there's a huge opportunity for us all," he said.
IRFU Director of Sevens and head coach Anthony Eddy talks about the Ireland Men's Sevens squad's upcoming tournaments and ambitions, while squad members Cian Aherne and Tom Daly tell us about their enthusiasm to play Sevens for Ireland.
IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora speaks about the newly-announced Ireland Men's Sevens squad and structures, and we also hear from squad member Matthew D'Arcy on the training camps and how he got involved.
IRFU Women's Rugby Ambassador Fiona Coghlan played in three Rugby World Cups and captained Ireland to Grand Slam glory. She believes the 2017 Women's World Cup in Ireland will be a 'hugely successful and exciting' tournament.