It has taken years of planning – and saving – but rugby fans finally set off on the trip of a lifetime as they jetted out to Japan to see Ireland take on the mighty All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-finals.
For Cork friends Liam McCarthy, Conor Collins, Finny Collins, Karl Slyne and Kevin Crowley, the decision to support their team in Japan started when they returned home from the last Rugby World Cup four years ago.
And they have been busy saving their euro since then.
“We’ve been saving for four years, allegedly, for the trip, some of us not so because we’re loaded,” Mr McCarthy joked as the group checked in their luggage at Dublin Airport yesterday.
“We came back from Cardiff around four years ago (after the last Rugby World Cup) and we made a deal and said, ‘Look, we’ve had so much fun, will we go to Japan?’
“So we took a long shot and last year we went up to the All Blacks match and it became more of a possibility and we made a pact then that we would go over to Japan, as outlandish as it did seem.
“We booked the tickets in January,” he said.
Dublin Airport was awash with Ireland fans heading to Japan.
Among them was father and son Brian and Max Brophy, from Skerries, Co Dublin.
Brian claims that 12-year-old Max is a lucky mascot for the Ireland squad and will ensure their victory over New Zealand.
“We went to Chicago in 2016 and saw Ireland beat the All Blacks there and on the basis of that performance we decided that we’ll set our sights for Japan,” said Brian.
“Max is the mascot. He’s yet to see Ireland being beaten by the All Blacks so hopefully that will never happen.”
The pair were very excited as they clutched envelopes containing precious tickets and passports.
“It’s a big trip for us and we’ve been planning it for three years,” said Brian.
They come from a rugby-mad family and are heading out for a two-week trip with tickets for matches all through to the final of the World Cup.
“Max has two younger sisters and they do like rugby and come to matches so they’re a little bit jealous and of course my wife is a big Munster fan so she’s quite jealous as well.
“We’re a big rugby family and Max plays rugby with the Under 14s in Skerries so it’s something he’s grown up with,” Brian told the Irish Independent.
However, the rugby isn’t the only thing that is on the cards for the duo while over in Japan.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Ireland play, that’s the primary thing and then we’re going over to do a pilgrim trail, an ancient Buddhist trail so we’re going to go off into the wilderness for three days and do a bit of sightseeing,” said Brian.
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