An estimated crowd of over 8,000 Leinster supporters greeted the province’s Heineken Cup-winning squad at a sun-kissed homecoming ceremony at the RDS on Sunday afternoon.
The huge audience were entertained as Rocky Elsom, Felipe Contepomi, captain Leo Cullen and coach Michael Cheika spoke about what the victory meant to them and the whole squad stayed on to sign autographs and pose for photos afterwards.
It was music to the fans’ ears when Cullen said: “You want to achieve a legacy of success. We want to push on from here, it’s important that we’re not a flash in the pan team.
“It’s an unbelievably hard cup to win, there are so many great teams from around Europe. Hopefully we won’t be giving it up soon.”
Out-half Jonathan Sexton, who brilliantly held his nerve to kick the match-winning 70th minute penalty against Leicester, was still trying to come to terms with the enormity of it all.
“To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. It would have been a lot worse to come home having lost, so we’re absolutely delighted,” he said.
On the subject of his decisive kick, he added: “I didn’t think it was going wide. I thought it may have been going a bit short so I was delighted when it went over.”
Upcoming band All Star Charge kicked off the homecoming proceedings with a string of old classics as the crowd entered the pitch from 1pm, three hours before the squad’s arrival which was greeted by rapturous applause.
Of course, four players were missing. Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip, Leinster’s try scorer in the final, were otherwise engaged as they boarded ‘Air Force Scrum’ with the rest of the 2009 British & Irish Lions for the flight to South Africa.