The Ulster squad had a very special visitor to their training ground at Newforge Country Club on Wednesday when Jimmy Nelson, one of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning heroes from 1948, dropped in to say hello and congratulate the province’s latest Grand Slam champions.
Click here to view photos from Jimmy Nelson’s visit with Ulster’s Grand Slam-winning players.
The Ulster players, including their four representatives in Ireland’s victorious squad from last Saturday’s match against Wales, got the chance to meet with Jimmy Nelson, the former Ireland and British & Irish Lions lock, who was part of the 1948 side that secured Ireland’s first Grand Slam.
Meeting the province’s latest Grand Slam champions – Tom Court, Paddy Wallace, Stephen Ferris and Rory Best – Nelson shared his experience of completing a clean sweep of Championship wins 61 years ago.
The quartet were delighted to meet Nelson, who wore his IRFU Grand Slam blazer especially for the occasion.
Commenting on such a memorable RBS 6 Nations campaign, Wallace said: “It was great to have played in the tournament in general – all of the games provide a great experience for any player.
“However, I was glad to have recovered (from injury) in time to play against England at Croke Park, and obviously to be a part of the winning team against Wales in the final game.
“Everyone was actually quite tired after the game. Due to the later kick-off time, we sat down to dinner with the Welsh team and management at around 10pm and so everyone was quite tired by this stage.
“Many of the guys celebrated into the early hours but I only managed to make it until about 2am, however I did manage to top up again at breakfast on Sunday with a glass of champagne.
“A lot of boys hadn’t even gone to bed by that stage, it was great craic!”
Court, the Australian-born prop, made his Test debut for Ireland during the Grand Slam campaign has been simply ‘blown away’ by the happenings of the past few weeks.
“The whole experience is still sinking in to be honest. It seems so surreal. It was only when we arrived at Dublin Airport and were greeted by hundreds of fans that it all started to become real,” he admitted.
“All in all it was a remarkable experience, a complete once in a lifetime memory that I will cherish for a long time.”
Asked about the crucial Grand Slam-clinching game against Wales, Court added: “I think every player had a feeling deep down that we were going to do it, but nobody wanted to jinx anything by admitting it.
“The guys had a great warm-up on the day. There was a real buzz around the squad and unbelievable team spirit before the match.
“I knew the Welsh were going to be a tough team but I had faith that the guys would pull it off.”