Scrum down, but Ireland finish on the up

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Some of travel retail’s finest (their description) athletes were determined on Saturday that they would not be found wanting, should their countries ever come calling. In the build-up to the eagerly awaited Six Nations rugby clash between England and Ireland at Twickenham, Ireland’s Liam Flood and Dermot Davitt (left, representing the Aer Rianta International and The Moodie Report jerseys respectively) and England’s Ian Williams and Tim Hallett (right, from the Pernod Ricard stable, and our gracious hosts) put each other’s scrummaging credentials to the test.

Watched by an incredulous gathering of rugby followers from both nations at the carefully chosen Eel Pie venue in Twickenham, Flood and Davitt delivered the first shove, only to be repelled by the heavier English pack – much as their countrymen were hours later down the road at England’s home of rugby.

Fortunately from the Irish point of view, a dominant scrum did little to help England’s cause in the main event of the day – with a late Tommy Bowe try snatching victory for Ireland by 20-16. Cue wild Irish celebrations that reverberated around London for the rest of the night.

Davitt also had the good fortune to accompany Ireland’s Munster contingent back to Shannon Airport on the flight from Heathrow the next morning, with sore heads aplenty – and not only the result of collisions in the ruck.

Curiously, John Hayes – the Ireland prop who celebrated his 100th cap at Twickenham – appeared less than impressed by Davitt’s description of his own scrummaging skills as they queued to board the aircraft. Still, with Hayes’ distinguished career as an international drawing to a close, there’ll soon be a vacancy up front. Now, does anyone have coach Declan Kidney’s number?

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