PETER Stringer was left beaming with pride at Ireland’s dramatic Six Nations Championship triumph, if a little envious that he was not part of the team’s moment of glory.
Ireland lifted the title with a 22-20 triumph over France in Paris last Saturday to lift the trophy for the first time since their Grand Slam success of 2009, in Stringer featured.
The 36 year old, capped 98 times by his country, watched the action unfold with relatives in London and said: “It was a huge amount of pride in what Ireland has achieved.
“Obviously I wanted to be out there myself. It's difficult at times when you're looking on as a fan having been there for so many years.
“But being really close to some of the guys still involved, you're massively proud of what they've done and delighted for them and the work they continue to do.
“Just the lift it's given the whole country, like in 2009 (Ireland's Grand Slam year) it changes people. It doesn't have to be the rugby community, it's the whole country, economically, everything it gets a massive lift.
“What a couple of games of rugby can do for people is fantastic and it's great to see it.’’
The match represented a glittering international swansong for 141-cap Brian O’Driscoll with Stringer joining those paying tribute to Ireland’s iconic number 13.
“He's pretty unique in the way he carries himself both on and off the pitch,’’ said former Munster scrum-half Stringer.
“Knowing the guy quite well, when he speaks everyone stops and listens. When he plays, you respect what he does. He's the kind of guy you want to play for. He'll put his head on the line.
“With regard to what he's done for Ireland and for Leinster too, it's hard to see someone having the whole package like him again.’’
MORE FROM STRINGER IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND NEWS FROM BATH'S CLASH AGAINST LONDON IRISH ON SATURDAY AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT