herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Battered, black and blue by French ... but rugby stars are ready for England clash

Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton
Rob Kearney and his new girlfriend Jess Redden leaving The Shelbourne Hotel on Sunday. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ireland rugby player Simon Zebo's girlfriend model Elvira Fernandez, leaving the Shelbourne hotel after winning against France in the in the RBS Six Nations yesterday.
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt leaves the Shelbourne with his men
Irish Rugby player Conor Murray, leaving the Shelbourne hotel after winning against France in the RBS Six Nations.

Ireland's bruised but victorious rugby heroes are turning their attentions to England after overcoming French opposition on Saturday.

Their upcoming clash with the top of the table leaders was already on the minds of the dispersing squad as they headed off to resume training.

The walking wounded included man of the match Johnny Sexton, who emerged from the hotel sporting a badly swollen eye and stitches from his bloody head clash with French colossus Mathieu Bastareaud.

And proving he's a real Valentine romantic, Simon Zebo and girlfriend Elvira Fernandez emerged with her clutching a single red rose.

ENCOUNTER

Jamie Heaslip and pal Cian Healy were seen getting into a 141-registered Mercedes as speculation continued about the consequences of the Irish number eight's encounter with a French player during Ireland's 18-11 conquest of the visitors.

Heaslip's back injury has caused concern to management and fans after French lock Pape was sin-binned for kneeing him in the back in a ruck at the Aviva stadium.

An IRFU spokesman refused to comment on reports suggesting he suffered a broken vertebra and promised "a medical report" will be released later today.

Players and their partners relaxed at the post-match dinner at the Shelbourne and the teammates bade farewell after breakfast.

Rob Kearney and his girlfriend Jess Redden turned heads as they strolled together outside the hotel. Rory Best was seen carrying a baby buggy on the hotel steps.

The squad will regroup in Dublin for the home game against England on March 1. Tickets for the clash sold out before Christmas and fans of both unbeaten teams are expecting a clash of the Titans contest in two weeks.

WARN

Ticket categories range from €55 to €95 for stand seats with premium level tickets sold out at €130 each. Schoolboy/girl tickets were priced at €15 and restricted view tickets began at €35.

"We always warn fans they should never pay above the face value of tickets," said IRFU spokesman David O'Siochain, stating authorised sales are only conducted through the union's website, rugby clubs, and Ticketmaster.ie.

He said the price levels are justified as ticket revenues from the two home games each year go to fund the game at all levels in Ireland.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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