Greystones RFC were delighted to welcome the RBS 6 Nations and Triple Crown trophies to Dr Hickey Park last Saturday, with members of the Grand Slam-winning management team the guests of club Preseident Peter Butler at a lunch prior to ‘Stones’ Division Two clash with UCC.
Ireland team manager Paul McNaughton, himself a former player, coach and President of Greystones, forwards coach Gert Smal, backs coach Alan Gaffney and defence coach Les Kiss were welcomed by an enthusiastic audience when they entered with the trophies.
As the assembled guests and members of Greystones sat down, the club President Peter Butler made reference to the fact that the top table had a vacant seat and with a masterful show of timing, he announced to a surprised audience that the chair was for the man himself, Declan Kidney, who then entered the room to even more thunderous applause.
When the excitement died down and Declan was asked to speak, he said that he was on his way down the country and had phoned Paul to see if he could drop in for a cup of tea, to which Paul replied that we might be able to do a little better with a lunch!
As is usual for Declan, he was modest and praiseworthy of his players and staff and would like to have stayed for a ‘real’ match (Greystones v UCC) but he had anoher appointment.
After the meal there was a question-and-answer session by the three coaches, with Alan being asked for his ‘Irish Lions’ – he named 10 Irish players in the travelling party – and in answer to another question he said that he had no doubt that we could repeat the Grand Slam in future.
Gert was asked about the future of Irish rugby and how did he see us going in the World Cup? He said that, on the back of this season and with the progress he has seen in Irish rugby, he would be delighted to be part of the team that would do the business.
Two other questions, answered by Les, were very illuminating. Question one was what did they (the coaches) feel as Stephen Jones stepped up for the final penalty? He said that all three of them and Paul were standing up when Declan, as calm as could be, told them to quietly sit down.
The second question, again taken by Les, was what had gone through the minds of the players as they watched Jones run up? He said that they stood tall and almost dared him to kick it and willed him to miss.
One final question came from Ken Ging, the former Leinster manager and Greystones stalwart, which he addressed to Paul.
“Paul,” he said with a grin, “was this Grand Slam as good as the one you were involved with in ’48?”
After the Greystones v UCC game, the trophies were once again put on display with the three coaches posing for photographs for a mass of children – and adults!
In fact, they stood for two hours patiently posing for photos and were delighted at how many people showed up.
Not forgetting that the main reason for the lunch was for UCC, their President Nollaig Parfrey was fulsome in his praise for the pullng power of Greystones RFC in being able to have the trophies and coaches in the club.
He also wished that as UCC are at the top of the Division Two table, that they would be grateful if Greystones ‘allowed’ (‘Stones were very generous and even allowed them to get a bonus point) them to remain so and that they would ‘oblige’ the Wicklow side at some future date!