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Wood masks
BBC NI's Stephen Watson reports from Dublin
 real 56k

Friday, 19 October, 2001, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Familiar faces in Dublin crowd
Irish rugby supporters
Irish fans will wear Wood masks at Lansdowne Road

BBC Sport Online's Jim Stokes in Dublin

One Keith Wood is usually enough for Lansdowne Road, but 10,000?

The bald pate of Wood is being immortalised in cardboard in the hope it will inspire Ireland to victory over England on Saturday.

Brewers Guinness have produced cut-out face masks of the most famous face in Irish sport.

It is a novel idea, a purely commercial enterprise, but one that will add to the electrified atmosphere which usually prevails in Dublin.

Great mirth

''I do not look in the mirror much. I have no need to,'' said Wood.

''But I would imagine that Saturday's game will feature one of the ugliest crowds on record!

''I am not paying much attention to it, but if it helps us put one over England well and good.''

The rest of the Ireland squad thought it was humorous, however, as it was not the first time the ruse was used as coach Warren Gatland explained.

Ireland coach Warren Gatland
Coach Gatland says masks are just a bit of fun

''They had the cut-out of Keith a few seasons ago - but we lost.

''He got some banter over the mask, and there was great mirth in the camp," said Gatland.

''The most amusing incident was the part played by the players' wives.

''When the team dispersed that weekend, they all took a mask home with them and wore them around the house the rest of the week!

''Really that is what it is, a bit of fun.

''But if it helps arouses the crowd to really get behind us, then it will be a big bonus.''

Perfect pint

Guinness, of course, flows by the barrell-load on these weekends. All right, any weekend.

They say it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint. So Guinness have offered 10,000 to any player who scores a try within that time.

The winner, if there is one, will have the pleasure of donataing his prize to a charity of his choice.

He will also receive a year's supply of Guinness. Try telling the wife that one!

The last player to beat the Guinness Challenge in Ireland was Australia's Tim Horan, against Romania during the opening group game in the Rugby World Cup '99 at Ravenhill, Belfast.

So that is why Saracens have lost a bit of their sparkle!

Links to more Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Ireland stories

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