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Watch: Tears For Johnny Sexton During Anthems Ahead Of Mega France Clash

Watch: Tears For Johnny Sexton During Anthems Ahead Of Mega France Clash
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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For Johnny Sexton, this year's Six Nations is defined by the question of whether it will be his last.

The 37-year-old out-half has long hinted that he will retire after the World Cup in France later this year, meaning that this year's Six Nations would mark his final outing in the northern hemisphere's biggest international competition.

Games in the championship don't come much bigger than Saturday afternoon's between Ireland and France in the Aviva Stadium, with the world's top two teams facing off in the Six Nations for the first time ever.

Ahead of kick-off, the Aviva Stadium was rocking in a way seldom seen since the ground opened in 2010. The anthems were an emotional affair, with Sexton seemingly on the verge of tears as Ireland's Call rang around the stadium.

Johnny Sexton: Irish out-half glassy-eyed ahead of France game

After a rousing rendition of 'La Marseillaise' by the visitng French fans, it was Ireland's turn to belt out the anthems in front of a packed out Aviva Stadium.

Many of the Irish players appeared emotional, with the camera lingering on a tearful Johnny Sexton, as he lined out for what will almost certainly be the last time he will play against France in Dublin.

READ HERE: Brian O’Driscoll Dumbfounded By Wayne Barnes Refusal To Award France Red Card


Sexton was not the only Irish player supremely emotional ahead of kick-off. Peter O'Mahony - standing next to Sexton - sang the anthems with traditional vigour, while Andrew Porter appeared to be in tears during Amhrán na bhFiann.

After a desperately difficult week for his family, Conor Murray also appeared emotional.

11 February 2023; Ireland players from right, Andrew Porter, Conor Murray, Tadhg Beirne and Peter O'Mahony, before the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The Aviva Stadium has rarely been rocking in the manner in which it was pre-match on Saturday afternoon, and the atmosphere contributed to what was already set up as an historic and giant clash between the #1 and #2 sides in the world rugby rankings.

The first-half was a thrilling affair, with brilliant tries from both sides defining an energetic and open 40 minutes of rugby.


READ HERE: Wayne Barnes Rightly Hammered For Farcical French Red Card Non-Decision

Sexton would be taken off early in the second-half, after taking a physical pounding from the French team. Despite his age and the pressure put on him, Sexton put in a huge shift and Ireland would eventually go on to win 32-19.

At full-time, Sexton spoke to RTÉ 2, and explained that the team had welcomed special visitors into the camp this week, who explained the sginificance of Ireland's Call as a unifying anthem for the Irish rugby team.

Sexton's comments perhaps explained why he was so emotional while Ireland's Call rang around the Aviva on Saturday afternoon:

We had a very special week, a special buildup to the game. We had special guests in during the week who spoke about Ireland's Call. It was very emotional. Unless you were in the room on Monday night, you wouldn't understand why! Brian [O'Driscoll], Craig Doyle and the Doc came in and spoke to us about the Shoulder to Shoulder documentary.

It was a great day, great occasion. The French supporters showed up, our supporters showed up - and we turned up! It was a hell of a game. Obviously, it came down to chances. We didn't take as many as we could have in the first half, made it difficult. The lads really hung in there, it was a really special day.

SEE ALSO: Gleeson And Ireland U20s Give Musgrave Park All The Love After Huge French Win

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