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The Amazed International Media Reaction To Connacht's Fairytale Final

The Amazed International Media Reaction To Connacht's Fairytale Final
By Conor O'Leary
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Connacht's fairytale ended almost exactly like their season ended last year - playing some breath-takingly wonderful rugby and winning the hearts of neutrals watching everywhere.

Because it wasn't just Irish rugby fans who were enamoured with Connacht's style of play, their story, the way they upset the odds. They made headlines around the world - and almost all of them were complimentary.

There were publications who tried their best to explain just how far Connacht have come. Like Tenplay news in Australia, who stressed how bad they were right before they were nearly shut down:

So often the poor relations of Irish provincial rugby, Connacht finished bottom of the Celtic League six years in a row before the admission of two Italian sides.

That sentiment was echoed by the BBC:

Connacht had never been in the Pro12 final before and they made the most of their historic opportunity, playing adventurous, running rugby to telling effect.

Their perseverance was triumphed, especially when losing John Cooney to injury which completely disjointed their backline. Stuff, in New Zealand preferred to focus on Pat Lam. They were almost in disbelief that Lam, who struggled to create a culture that worked in Auckland - could lead a team like Connacht to a trophy. They were so complimentary for the attacking style and flair that Connacht showed, and this was echoed in Scottish papers too.


The Sunday Herald in Scotland summed it up best:

THEY were neither overawed by the big occasion nor overpowered by Leinster. Instead, Connacht did what they have done all season - play a gloriously self-confident and almost carefree brand of rugby to inherit the PRO12 title from Glasgow.


The Scots preferred to focus on the underdog status of the westerners, whilst maintaining they were definitely deserving of the win:


Apart from a short spell at the start of both halves they took the game to Leinster, proving both more adventurous in attack and far more solid in defence.

Rugby World were giddy with joy, not just that Connacht had won - but that they had won using the entertaining brand of Southern hemisphere rugby. Why can't all teams play like that?

Connacht achieved the near-impossible by not only winning their first ever final, but by doing it playing a brand of scintillating, attractive rugby. Three sumptuous tries from the men in green was matched only by one Leinster dot.

The reaction in England was a little more mixed. The Daily Mail chose to focus on new England squad member Ben Te'o, and his lacklustre performance. It looks like the rugby league convert will take the place of Sam Burgess as the next scapegoat for England's failures, and the over-critical analysis has already started - despite his impressive season:

The centre was unable to provide convincing evidence that he will be of benefit to England on their Australian tour following his 20-month, 40-game cross-code tuition in Ireland.

I've saved the best for last however. Mark Palmer of the Sunday Times penned an article that almost reads like a love letter from someone who has never lost their innocence. The poetry that Palmer uses to describe just what Connacht's victory means is a must-read.


There were the inevitable comparisons to Leicester City, much to my chagrin, but Palmer theorises that this is even better than Leicester's story:

The journey from there to here is as extraordinary as anything we’ve witnessed in any sport in this or any other season, and the most tantalising aspect for all who’ve played their part in it is where it might go next.

It's an article that would bring the tears to the eyes of any Connacht fan, and has to be read:


These are the men at the heart of this story, though, and heart is the operative word. This was a future worth fighting for.

See Also: Analysing Gordon D'Arcy's Analysis Of Connacht's Victory: Is He The Most Famous 'Lonnacht'?

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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