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I can think of no better way to kick off the week in which Irish people around the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (17 March) than with a stirring rugby victory over England in Twickenham. Being there in person on a lovely spring afternoon on Saturday made the moment all the more special.
Along with my colleague, The Moodie Davitt Report Vice President Sales & Events Sarah Genest, I was a match guest of the wonderfully welcoming Proximo Spirits travel retail team, led by Head of Global Travel Retail Roy Summers, Regional Account Manager EMEA GTR Genevieve Woods and Trade Marketing Manager GTR Patrick Lynch, alongside their UK domestic market colleagues.
A sumptuous steak lunch accompanied by a few (but not too many) pre-match pints set us up for a match that ended with a rare Irish win, though that tells only part of the story.
An England side down to 14 men inside two minutes produced a gutsy fightback to be in position to snatch a win ten minutes from the end, raising Irish fans’ worst fears of another galling Twickenham defeat. The closing stages, with England hunting the Irish team down all over the pitch, brought the stadium to raucous life, with English supporters in full voice as their team roared back.
Fortunately, Johnny Sexton and his Irish team mates pulled themselves together to score two late tries and run out 32-15 winners, ensuring that the closing moments saw English rugby anthem ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ – sung with gusto by England’s fans just minutes earlier – drowned out by ‘The Fields of Athenry’.
The celebratory mood continued well past the final whistle, as Ireland’s fans stayed on to salute the players, in recognition of that rare but beautiful thing – a bonus point win over England in the Six Nations.
Closing out a memorable day back in the hospitality lounge, our warm hosts at Proximo were rightly proud of the English team that had come close to winning against tough odds. The flowing Guinness helped make defeat a little easier to take – and for me and the others in green, tasted all the sweeter in victory.
Now we look ahead to St. Patrick’ Day itself later in the week, with Proximo and its Bushmills Irish whiskey brand partnering with The Moodie Davitt Report for a big campaign to mark Ireland’s national day.
The campaign will lead on the launch of the new Black Bush 80/20 PX Sherry Cask Reserve (pictured), a travel retail-exclusive expression, just released to the market. More to follow in coming days.