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Browne Reflects On ‘Huge Achievement’ For Irish Rugby

Browne Reflects On ‘Huge Achievement’ For Irish Rugby

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said it was a case of all the hard work paying off when Ireland completed a clean sweep of victories in the 2009 RBS 6 Nations on Saturday and scooped the nation’s first Grand Slam since 1948.

It was a long time coming, but Ireland’s second ever Grand Slam, sealed by Saturday’s dramatic win in Cardiff, was certainly well worth the wait.

There is no doubting that Irish rugby is riding on the crest of a wave at the moment. The RBS 6 Nations and Triple Crown trophies represent years of hard work by players, coaches, officials and volunteers.

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2009 is seeing further strides being made, not just at Test level.

From the many, ongoing developments at grassroots level, the new structures coming into the AIB League, the provinces’ consistent challenges for silverware and the Ireland Under-20 and Women’s teams gaining top-three finishes in their Championships.

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne, speaking to TV3 Sport, said that winning the Grand Slam is a massive achievement for Irish rugby.

“It’s huge. It’s huge for the players. They’ve worked so hard over the last number of years and come so close. It’s just great to see them really achieve something that’s at the pinnacle of their ambition,” he said.

“I think it’s great for all the Irish teams that have taken to the field in the green shirt since 1948 and who have tried their hearts out. It must be wonderful for them to see it as well.

“For us, as a sport, it’s fantastic. We’ve waited so long for it. It’s a great opportunity for us now to build our sport and build our brand and that’s really what we want to try and do.”

Browne was delighted to see the nation’s 61-year wait for a Grand Slam finally come to end, and in such dramatic and exciting fashion.

“It was almost a monkey on the back. The closer they came, the harder it became to actually try and achieve their ambition. It was wonderful to see them win it.

“It was an incredibly tense affair in a wonderful sporting arena, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the best rugby stadium in the world.

“The Welsh crowd are amongst the best rugby supporters in the world, along with the Irish. What more could you want?”

Paul O’Connell commented after the game that Ireland coach Declan Kidney has the ‘Midas touch’ when it comes to leading teams, with most notably an Under-19 World Cup, two Heineken Cups and now a Grand Slam on his CV.

Browne agreed: “Declan obviously has something special. He manages to do things with teams that other people don’t seem to be able to do.

“Having said that, when you look back at all the hard work Eddie O’Sullivan put in, you’ve got to paid credit there as well.

But for Declan and his management team, they’ve done a superb job and we’ve got to thank them and appreciate them.”