Ireland were named ‘Team of The Year’ and the win over New Zealand was voted ‘Sporting Achievement of The Year’ in the annual PSG Sport and Sponsorship Sentiment Index.
The Ireland team topped the poll as Team of The Year with 31% of the vote thanks in no small part to an historic treble over South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Connacht’s thrilling win in the GUINNESS PRO12 saw them into fourth place with 9% of the vote, while the Ireland Under-20s were eighth thanks to their heroics in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Ireland’s 40-29 victory over New Zealand in Chicago was voted as the greatest Sporting Achievement of the Year with Cork’s O’Donovan brothers ‘pulling like a dog’ in second.
There’s also plenty of anticipation for 2017 as the RBS 6 Nations was listed as the event that people are most looking forward to next year. The Lions tour and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 also feature strongly in what promises to be another busy year for Irish Rugby.
Conor McGregor topped the poll as the Most Admired Sportstar but three Irish rugby players – Jonathan Sexon, Rory Best and Jamie Heaslip – featured in the top 10.
The ‘SSSI’ is a comprehensive 1,000 person nationally representative survey with quotas imposed across gender, region, age and social class.
The research was carried out by PSG Sponsorship and Ignite Research and examines Irish people’s attitudes towards sport, their sporting heroes, levels of participation and the impact of sport on the Irish psyche. This is the seventh year of the research.
Mick O’Keeffe, CEO of PSG Communications, said: “This was a vintage year for Irish sport with memorable victories on the international stage for our rugby, soccer, golfing and Olympic and Paralympic heroes. The general public was spoilt for choice in this year’s survey and I expect the findings to once again lead to healthy debate.
“”It was also a breakthrough year for Connacht Rugby and Dundalk’s achievements are unrivalled in Irish soccer history. When you factor in Tipp’s brilliant success, the all-conquering Cork ladies and possibly the greatest Dublin football team of all time, then it is fair to say 2016 was a very special year.
“There is undoubtedly seasonal bias and major successes that happen earlier in the year tend to drift from people’s consciousness as the end of year approaches.
“There were so many sporting moments and highs and lows from Robbie Brady’s winner versus Italy to Munster Rugby’s emotional tribute to Anthony Foley but more than anything, this year’s research illustrates that as a nation, we are obsessed with sport and blessed with our sports teams and sports stars.”