O’Connell chosen as Ireland’s best ever forward

UlsterBank_RugbySurveyInfographic_2014Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell have been crowned as Ireland’s greatest back and Ireland’s greatest forward of all-time, according to a survey released today by Ulster Bank – Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU and associate sponsor of the RBS 6 Nations.

The survey – which generated over 1,360 responses from every county across the island of Ireland – revealed Brian as Ireland’s best back of all-time, with a whopping 75% of the vote – fending off Irish rugby greats such as Ronan O’Gara (second place with 8%), Mike Gibson (third place with 4%) and Jack Kyle (fourth place with 2%).

2014 captain-fantastic, Paul O’Connell, was crowned as Ireland’s best forward of all-time, with 45% of the vote. Fellow Munster-man and Irish rugby legend, Keith Wood, came in second place with 23% of the vote. Paul was also chosen ahead of Irish greats, such as Willie John McBride (15%), Fergus Slattery (3%) and Ciaran Fitzgerald (2%).  Meanwhile rugby fans in Limerick gave Paul O’Connell a whopping 63% of the vote.

Brian O’Driscoll continued to top the poles, coming in as the number-one player the Irish public would most like to spend a day with (30%). Paul O’Connell came in second place with 23%, followed by Tommy Bowe (8%). However in Limerick, the fans got behind their Ireland captain, Paul O’Connell, who received 50% of the vote meaning Brian O’Driscoll only secured 15%.

The RBS 6 Nations Showdown:
When asked about the RBS 6 Nations, 68% of those surveyed voted England as the team we most enjoy seeing Ireland beat. France came in second place with 15%. A massive 75% of those surveyed also said they would cut a holiday short to watch Ireland play a Grand Slam decider at the Aviva Stadium.

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60% of those surveyed voted being at the stadium as their favourite place to watch Ireland during the RBS 6 Nations. 19% voted the comfort of their living room as their favourite place to watch Ireland, followed by the pub (12%) and at the local rugby club (6%).

Legendary rugby pundit and broadcaster, George Hook, topped the poles as the pundit the Irish public would most like to sit beside during a Grand Slam decider (21%). George was followed closely by Conor O’Shea (18%), Keith Wood (16%), Brent Pope (14%) and Ulster Bank rugby ambassador, Alan Quinlan (9%).

The Kearney / Bowe Face-Off:
Potentially the most important statistic to emerge from the survey – for those in the Ireland camp – came in the form of a vote for Ireland’s best-looking player. It was neck-and-neck at the beginning but, Rob Kearney shot ahead securing 34% of the vote (one in three), while Tommy Bowe stole the hearts of 17% of those surveyed.

Brian O’Driscoll maintained his winning streak, being chosen as Ireland’s favourite Irish rugby star to follow on Twitter (29%), with Tommy Bowe taking second place (17%). The bragging wars can begin between close friends and prolific Tweeters, Cian Healy and Jamie Heaslip – Cian coming in third place with 14%, ahead of Jamie, with 9%. Sean O’Brien and Simon Zebo also have their Twitter fans, with the duo scoring 8% of the vote each.

When asked what rugby item the Irish public would most like to take a ‘selfie’ with, Cian Healy’s monster truck took pole position with 28% of the vote. Gordon D’Arcy’s beard came in second place (19%) – followed by Donnacha O’Callaghan’s notorious red underpants (15%), Jamie Heaslip’s dog ‘Jay-Z’ (12%), Sean O’Brien’s scrum-cap (12%), one of George Hook’s multi-coloured ties (9%), and Daire O’Brien’s sheepskin jacket (5%).

Jersey Pride:
There were interesting results when those surveyed were asked about rugby jerseys. 53% of those surveyed said they would wear the opposition jersey to a derby game, if it meant their team would win. 88% of those surveyed own an Ireland and / or provincial rugby jersey. Over 50% of those who own a rugby jersey also own their local rugby club jersey.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Ulster Bank rugby ambassador, Alan Quinlan, said:

“I am delighted for Brian and Paul. Both players have given their bodies and hearts to rugby from a young age and both can now go down in history as the all-time greats. I think Tommy will be hurting having being beaten, by Rob, as the best looking Irish player but, I’m sure Tommy has plenty of followers. I’m glad to feature in the survey but, being beaten by Hookie and Popey has somewhat bruised my ego. This is one of the largest sample surveys done for the game of rugby, in Ireland. From a club rugby point of view, it’s fantastic to see so many people owning their local club jersey. Supporting our local rugby clubs is essential for the development of the game. That’s what Ulster Bank’s IRFU partnership is all about.”

As Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU and title sponsor of the Ulster Bank League, Ulster Bank activates a number of initiatives designed to support rugby clubs, across the island of Ireland. Ulster Bank’s club initiative, Ulster Bank RugbyForce, is currently open for entries to clubs across the island of Ireland. The initiative provides rugby clubs with the opportunity to win support packages to renovate their club and upgrade their facilities. One rugby club will receive a top prize of €10,000, as well as a special training session with an IRFU coach and two Irish rugby stars. Four additional rugby clubs, one from each province, will each receive €5,000.

For further information on all of Ulster Bank’s rugby initiatives and to enter Ulster Bank RugbyForce, go to www.ulsterbank.com/rugby