World number one ranked Ireland arrived at their Rugby World Cup 2023 base in Tours ahead of the competition’s kick-off this coming Friday.
The men in green were met by a remarkable welcome from the locals who turned out en masse to the local stadium.
Running out to the raucous welcome, Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton took the moment as an opportunity to prank halfback teammate Craig Casey.
In a clear throwback to Munster and Ireland prop Dave Kilcoyne’s similar action during the Six Nations. Sexton grabbed Casey’s hand as if he was dropping his son to school.
Clearly a popular figure within the Irish camp, Casey went along with the gag as the two ran hand-in-hand onto the pitch.
For Irish fans, it is a real positive to see the side in such good form as they look like a completely different team than the one who arrived at the previous World Cup in a different mindset.
Whilst they were number one in 2019, the wheels had fallen off Joe Schmidt’s ruthlessly efficient side by the time the tournament began.
This time, however, Ireland arrived at the tournament on the back of a thirteen-match win streak, including a series victory over the All Blacks and a Six Nations Grand Slam.
Although the draw is a difficult one, Irish fans, the people of Tours, will be cheering them on for what could be the final major tournament for several all-time great Irish players such as Sexton, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony.
Why does Craig Casey look like a team mascot in this video? 🤣pic.twitter.com/NCQPoetMet
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) September 2, 2023