Rugby Union

Ireland rugby fans pour into London hoping for St Patrick's Day Grand Slam

Ireland coach Andy Farrell during the Captain's Run at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture by Paul Harding, PA Wire
Catherine Wylie, Press Association

Irish rugby fans are set to descend on London ahead of their side's St Patrick's Day Grand Slam showdown with England.

The English capital is expected to be painted green as Ireland's most fearsome 15 bid for a place in Irish folklore in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ireland has already won the Six Nations - their third in five years - but will be hoping to secure a sweet victory over England to cement their third ever Grand Slam.

Fans are gearing up for a memorable St Patrick's Day weekend in London with some starting the celebrations early on Friday.

Colin Taylor (68), owner of The Toucan pub in Soho, said: "We've been preparing for it all week.

"We're looking forward to tomorrow. We've got about 70 kegs ready for the weekend actually."

Mr Taylor said his loyalties are split as despite being an Englishman he wants to see Ireland clinch the Grand Slam.

"I will be wearing a split shirt tomorrow - an English jersey and an Irish jersey in one," he said.

Sandra Truesdale (36), from Roscrea in County Tipperary, was having an early tipple in The Toucan to kick off the weekend.

Ms Truesdale, who lives and works in London, said she had "Googled opening hours", and said she had dreamed of this outcome ahead of the tournament.

"I did think, imagine if it came down to the Grand Slam that it was Ireland versus England, and that it was played on Paddy's Day, in London.

"I thought I was only joking, but it did, it came true," she said.

Her friend Martha Farrell (29), from Roscommon, said she is watching the match with a few English people "which is going to make it even more entertaining".

Tickets for the match have been like gold dust, with many fans expected to pour into London's pubs for the historic game.

Jim Irwin (58) and Stephen Revels (63), both from Newry, County Down, flew into Heathrow Airport on Friday morning with two other friends.

The group, who were enjoying pints in Waxy O'Connor's, do not have tickets but said they will have a great day on Saturday regardless.

Mr Revels' confidence of an Irish win is sky high: "It's a done deal."

Mr Irwin said they had taken the day off work for the festivities, adding: "There will be nothing to match it. It will be brilliant."

Suzie Crawford (28), from Holywood, County Down, said she is looking forward to the atmosphere.

Ms Crawford, who lives and works in London, said: "I think the fact it's St Patrick's Day and the fact Ireland are playing so well ... It will be exciting to see it all play out."

Kevin McCabe (31) from Knockcroghery in County Roscommon, is over for the weekend to join his cousin for the celebrations.

"It will be great for the country. It will be brilliant. It will be great to see Ireland win it.

"They've come this far, and to beat the English... it will be brilliant," he said.

His cousin Alex McCabe (29), lives in Slough, but his roots mean he is hoping for an Irish triumph.

"In my house it was never about England anyway because both my parents are Irish, so it's always been Ireland for me," he said.

Mr McCabe said he is aware of tickets going for up to £15,000.

"That's a lot of shilling," he said.

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