Ireland’s incredible 2018 witnessed another highlight on Sunday as Joe Schmidt’s men picked up the World Rugby Team of the Year award at a ceremony in Monte Carlo.
The accolade is another success in a stellar year for Ireland that saw the team achieve a stunning 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam and record a series win in Australia.
That was Ireland’s first series victory over Australia in 39 years but further successes would come as the Six Nations side went on to beat world No.1 ranked side New Zealand in Dublin just a few weeks ago.
Senior Ireland player Peter O’Mahony attended the awards and commented: “He never really gives us full permission to celebrate does Joe! But I suppose first time in 111 years of beating one of the greatest teams ever.
“Not just in history but in the modern game the All Blacks, it was a big occasion for us obviously.
“We have a huge amount of respect for them and it was an incredible night for us as a squad and Ireland as a nation – we certainly had a few beers on the back of it.” Ireland’s 16-9 over the All Blacks was the first on home soil in 113 years and came as part of a second straight clean sweep of the autumn for Schmidt’s men.
Their November triumphs mean Ireland have won 11 out of 12 Tests in 2018 and will step into the new year second in the world rankings.
When asked what he thought the highlight of 2018 was, Ireland skipper Rory Best commented: “It’s been an unbelievable 12 months for us and I think probably the Grand Slam was enormous.
“I think to win it at Twickenham, an unbelievably tough place to go, and win with all the pressure that was around – that Grand Slam was just really, really special.
“We’ve now got a Six Nations to defend in the new year and a long hard pre-season before we get to that World Cup, it’s been a fantastic year and we’ll probably reflect back now and enjoy this evening!”