The Irish rugby team can’t be considered among the greatest Irish sports teams in history until they perform at a World Cup.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon presenter Andrea asked listeners if the team was now the greatest ever to come out of Ireland in any sport following Saturday’s Grand Slam victory.
She was speaking after Irish Independent columnist Eamon Sweeney made the claim in Sunday’s paper.
Former Ireland Rugby international Shane Byrne told Andrea the team has more to do to be considered among the best.
He said there is “a bit of sensationalism going on” amongst those who make that claim.
“It’s a bit too sweeping of a statement,” he said. “Although I have to say the opportunity is there for them to maybe get that title in the World Cup that is coming up.
“Winning the Grand Slam is a very hard thing to do in rugby – It doesn’t happen every year.
“It is only the fourth time in our history that we have managed to do it and the first time ever winning it at home so their achievement is absolutely fantastic but do they compare to some of the fantastic teams that have played Gaelic, hurling, soccer, boxing?
“Time will tell if they reach those levels.
“The World Cup is coming up and we all know in rugby we have a hoodoo over us and we can’t get past the quarter-finals, let’s see if they can take that step and then even take another step forward.”
He said being ranked number one in the world is a “fantastic position to be in” but warned fans not to “get carried away with ourselves just yet”.
Meanwhile, caller Liam said it was ridiculous to call them the greatest Irish sports team.
“They played what? Three or four countries? The same three or four countries every year,2 he said.
“Now, in rugby terms, of course it is a great performance. They won the Grand Slam and they were the best team, true, but that’s it.
“Maybe if they go and win a World Cup or something - when you take in the other two countries that play the game - then maybe you could go and say they are a great team.
“But you can’t say they are the greatest team that has ever left Ireland.”
He said the team can’t be compared to those in other sports with bigger global followings.
“How can you compare them to the Irish soccer team that got to the quarter-finals of a World Cup?” he asked.
“Or even to what the Donovan brothers did or the Irish boxing team in the 2012 Olympics?
“Take your Kilkenny teams or your Dublin teams or your Kerry teams – they are great teams. They mightn’t be international but they’re great teams.
“How could you compare that to Shane Lowry winning The Open
“It is up there. It is a great achievement and no one is going to knock them. If they go and get the Word Cup maybe then I’ll take a second look at them but you can’t say it is the greatest sporting achievement.”
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