Justin Harrison-Austin Healey feud re-ignites 20 years on from fiery British & Irish Lions tour


But it was a newspaper column on the eve of the deciding third Test in Sydney, won 29-23 by Australia, that really made Healey public enemy No.1.

“Spin this, you Aussies: up yours,” Healey wrote for the Guardian. “Is that enough to get into the Sydney Morning Sun Telegraph Herald Load of Shite?

Harrison and Healey go toe-to-toe during a Lions and Australia A match

Harrison and Healey go toe-to-toe during a Lions and Australia A matchCredit:Steve Christo

“Justin Harrison’s in the team to face us. Me and the plank. Do you think one of us will have the final say? I’ll say so.”

In his maiden Test, Harrison pulled off a lineout steal in Australian territory the dying stages when the Lions threatened to score in what was the defining moment of his 34-Test international career. Healey was injured for the final fixture.

In a column for the Telegraph this week, Healey put forward his version of events from the Australia A game.

“[Harrison] knee-dropped one of our players when playing for Australia ‘A’, so I caught him with a little jab in the face, nobody saw it, and he lost the plot, chasing me over to the sidelines,” Healey wrote. “I looked at the ref and said, ‘He’s lost it, you’ve got to send him off,’ which made Harrison even angrier.”

Wallabies second-rower Justin Harrison gestures to British and Irish Lions back Austin Healey during a match in 2001.

Wallabies second-rower Justin Harrison gestures to British and Irish Lions back Austin Healey during a match in 2001. Credit:Getty

Contacted by the Herald, Harrison could not believe Healey had accused him of kneeing a player in the back. Whilst not wanting to turn the comments into a slanging match, Harrison was eager to set the record straight.

“It was a kick through in play,” Harrison said. “[Wallaby Graeme] Bond ran back and dove on it. I was running back onside to try and get around and secure possession. I saw Healey slide in with his knees into Bondy’s back, so I grabbed him straight away.

“And he said he gave me one on the chin that nobody saw? Of course no one saw it, because it didn’t happen. I grabbed him and started remonstrating with him and the referee. I took him over to the sideline and he’s changed the story to be exactly the opposite.”

Harrison accused Healey of stretching the truth.

“He says that I slid in with my knees when he scored the match-equalling try against the Brumbies and he’s blaming me for injuring him for the third Test?” Harrison said.

“He’s got an inventive, envious streak going through him where he mentions me. It’s like a Mr Men character, where he can’t tell the truth. I think because he has a fear of losing relevance. Let it go champ, you were on QF2 flying home to London at kick-off.”

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As Healey put it in a newspaper column 20 years ago following Australia’s series win: “My mate Justin had a bit of a game, didn’t he? Of course, he had the freedom of the park without me there to irritate him. Well played, Justin. Wow, that didn’t hurt too much.”

Harrison finds it amusing that Healey has tried to be amicable when the pair have bumped into each other in recent years.

“He’s cordial and will shake my hand when I see him,” Harrison said. “When he writes that sort of stuff, it’s not great. “I had a chat with Graeme Bond and he enjoyed the bedtime story too.”

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Violet Gibson – The Irish woman who shot Benito Mussolini



Efforts are being made to put up a plaque commemorating Violet Gibson in Dublin.

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British and Irish Lions to discuss Australia’s invite to host tour, Rugby Australia’s Hamish McLennan wants answer by April


Australia’s audacious plan – for Tests to be played in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney – is set to be discussed for the first time at a Lions board meeting in coming days, according to a report in the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

UK media reports suggest a move to Australia is unlikely, despite RA’s offer it would take no profits.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan (left) and chief executive Andy Marinos.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan (left) and chief executive Andy Marinos.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

McLennan is still open to the idea, whereby teams would come into a quarantine hub – either in Sydney or Perth – before travelling the country for tour matches and Tests.

The hope is for stadiums to be at least 50 per cent full.

“We really need them to give us a nod and then we can go into full-blown planning,” McLennan told the Herald. “We’d be thrilled to have them and the players would love it.

“[NSW Premier] Gladys [Berejiklian] has done a superb job facilitating these big events and I note the World Surfing League are now running two competitions in NSW. I’m confident we can pull it off successfully.”

Asked whether he thought there was appetite from the Lions for the move, McLennan said: “I can’t really tell but I think some key stakeholders would like the idea.

“I think everyone has to accept in a COVID-19 world nothing is normal so we have to solve problems laterally.”

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From a commercial perspective, the Lions and South Africa want to ensure as many spectators as possible can watch matches. They also need to satisfy Sky Sports, which has broadcast rights for the series.

RA showed its ability to pull together fixtures at short notice with last year’s Tri Nations.

South Africa decided against coming to Australia at the last minute, upsetting the other nations involved, but the six-week tournament filled a gap in the international calendar.

Australia is set to host the British and Irish Lions in 2025.

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Australia a shock contender to host British and Irish Lions, Springboks tour


A report in the Rugby Paper in the UK said the plan also contained a pitch for the Wallabies to play an extra Test against the Lions.

McLennan confirmed the series invitation to the Herald on Sunday morning, saying he was confident expats and Australians would sell out the Lions-Springbok Tests, but the RA chairman declined to discuss the possibility of a Wallabies-Lions clash.

The Springboks are now weighing up whether to play the tour in the UK, or meet the Lions to Australia.

South Africa’s Bakkies Botha, right and Victor Matfield, center, tussle with British Lions’ Brian O’Driscoll, left, during their international rugby union match at Loftus Versfeld stadium, Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday June 27, 2009.Credit:AP

“Ultimately it’s their call,” McLennan told the Herald.

“What we learnt from the Tri Nations last year and the tennis that’s happening now is that Australia can successfully stage global tournaments in a COVID world.

“It’s particularly tough in the UK and South Africa at the moment and I believe the more international rugby that gets played here, the better.

“We’re here to help.”

The lucrative Lions tour has been thrown into disarray as South Africa continue to battle high numbers of COVID-19 cases, a mutant virus strain and a slow vaccination rollout.

Until McLennan threw Australia’s hat into the ring, the SARU were weighing up whether to play the tour in South Africa in front of no fans, or travel to the UK.

But the pot of money a Lions tour generally brings will not pour any cash into RA’s coffers.

McLennan confirmed the profits from the tour – if it was to be held in Australia – would be split between the Lions and Springboks, raising the question as to why RA would want the tour in the first place.

“We’ll cover our costs but it continues to put rugby front and centre and we’ll be helping our member union friends out along the way,” McLennan said.

“The more world class rugby that’s played in Australia, the better for the code.”

Jonathan Sexton celebrating with the Lions fans after winning the 3rd Rugby Test of the Wallabies v British and Lions at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Jonathan Sexton celebrating with the Lions fans after winning the 3rd Rugby Test of the Wallabies v British and Lions at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.Credit:Dallas Kilponen

Australian Super Rugby sides would be ready-made opposition for both sides as lead up and midweek matches, given the tour is scheduled to take place in July and August.

“We have France scheduled to come out this year so we need to factor that in but if we can get a broader group of players competing against world class sides, that can only be good for our players,” McLennan said.

Perth would almost certainly be handed one of the three Lions-Springboks Tests, given the high number of ex-pats from the UK, Ireland and South Africa that now call Western Australia home.

Brisbane and Sydney are the leading contenders to host the other two Tests. Both also have strong expats communities, and local fans who would love to watch Lions games. The famous touring side, who last played here in 2013, are due to tour Australia again in 2025.

Lions tours are typically lucrative as they draw tens of thousands of fans from the UK to the southern hemisphere and while that is no longer possible, McLennan is confident the matches would still sell out across the country.

“There is a multi-generational ex-pat community for both South Africa and the UK out here,” he said.

“I’m confident there would be great patronage for the Tests. Remember, they are some of our biggest communities in Australia. I’m sure we would get a fantastic turnout.”

There are still several hurdles to clear.

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Some reports from the UK overnight indicate South Africa are still leaning towards taking the tour to the UK but if that changes, McLennan will have to convince the federal and state governments to permit touring parties from two COVID-riddled parts of the world to Australia.

“We need to deeply consult both the federal and state governments but in our dealings, they have been superb to work with and we have demonstrated with the tennis that we can bring professional sportspeople into the country and manage it successfully,” McLennan said.

“The world needs to keep moving in these times. We successfully got Argentina and New Zealand in and Argentina was ravaged. They were then the surprise team of the tournament.

“If we can do it for Argentina, we can do it for anyone.”

McLennan denied the bid to host the tour was a ploy to attract votes in the race for the 2027 World Cup hosting rights.

“We don’t even know who the competition is yet,” he said.

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After outcry, EU reverses plan to restrict vaccine exports through Irish border



FILE PHOTO: A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen ahead of being administered at the Royal Victoria Hospital, on the first day of the largest immunisation programme in the British history, in Belfast, Northern Ireland December 8, 2020. Liam McBurney/Pool via REUTERS//File Photo

January 29, 2021

By Andy Bruce, Kate Holton and Marine Strauss

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Friday abruptly reversed course on a plan to use emergency Brexit measures to restrict exports of COVID-19 vaccines through the Irish border to the United Kingdom after it sent shockwaves through Northern Ireland, London and Dublin.

In a steep escalation of the EU’s fight to secure vaccine supplies, Brussels had said it would trigger clauses in the Northern Irish Protocol to prevent shots moving across the open border between EU-member Ireland and the British-run province.

Following an outcry in London, Belfast and Dublin, the EU published a statement just before midnight saying it would ensure that the Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to keep the border open, would not be affected.

It warned, however, that should vaccines and active substances move toward third countries and out of the bloc, it would use “all the instruments at its disposal”.

The very public reversal followed a round of frantic calls as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of his “grave concerns” while Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin spoke to both Johnson and the EU chief to find a solution.

Northern Irish unionists cast the move as an act of hostility.

The swiftest mass vaccination drive in history is stoking tensions across the world as big powers buy up doses in bulk and poorer nations try to navigate a financial and diplomatic minefield to collect whatever supplies are left.

The EU, whose member states are far behind Israel, Britain and the United States in rolling out vaccines, is scrambling to get supplies just as the West’s biggest drugmakers slow deliveries to the bloc because of production problems.

The European Commission has agreed a broader plan to control exports of vaccines from the bloc, including to Britain, arguing it needed to do so to ensure its own supplies.

But the EU’s action in Northern Ireland triggered anger.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster described as “an incredible act of hostility” the decision by the EU to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol, which allows Britain or the EU to take unilateral action if there is an unexpected negative effect arising from the agreement.

“The European Union has once again shown it is prepared to use Northern Ireland when it suits their interests but in the most despicable manner – over the provision of a vaccine which is designed to save lives,” Foster said.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, Andy Bruce and William James; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Daniel Wallis and Grant McCool)



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Missing fishermen named as Irish Sea search continues



A major operation resumes for three people on board the Nicola Faith, which failed to return to ports.

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AFL news 2021: Giants Irish recruit Brid Stack injury, neck, tackle, avoids serious issue, hospital, ambulance


Giants Irish recruit Brid Stack has escaped serious injury and been released from hospital after a terrifying collision during her side’s practice match against Adelaide on the weekend.

It comes as Crows star Ebony Marinoff was referred directly to the tribunal for the incident, which received the highest ‘impact’ grade from the AFLW Match Review.

Stack, playing her first match in Giants colours on Sunday, was injured during a tackle late in the match at Norwood Oval. An ambulance was called onto the field to assist Stack, who was loaded onto a stretcher and sent to hospital due to spinal precaution protocols.

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However the Giants on Monday afternoon confirmed Stack wouldn’t require surgery and should make a full recovery.

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Greater Western Sydney Giants’ Irish import Brid Stack cleared of major injury after horror tackle


The good news is Stack will make a full recovery, with surgery not required nor any nerve damage revealed by scans.

The bad news is she has a stable fracture to the C7 vertebra in her neck, which will put her in a neck brace in the short term and put her out of action for six weeks.

That means she is highly unlikely to figure in GWS’ AFLW campaign, which is slated to begin in Perth against Fremantle on January 31 subject to border re-openings.

“This was an incredibly unfortunate accident and we’re thankful that Bríd has avoided serious injury,” said the Giants’ head of women’s football Bri Harvey.

“Bríd and her family have made incredible sacrifices to come to Australia to play in the AFL Women’s competition and we will be supporting them all the way through her recovery.

“We’d like to thank all those who provided Bríd with the best possible care both at the ground and in hospital across Sunday.”

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The Giants had been pursuing Stack’s signature for three years after a recommendation from Cora Staunton, another ex-Gaelic football icon and a teammate at GWS.

An 11-time All-Ireland winner with Cork, Stack retired in 2018, but accepted the overtures from GWS late last year and brought her husband and one-year old son to Australia with her.

The Giants said in a statement Stack would stay in the country and remain a “key part of the team” as she rehabs her injury.

GWS will be based in Adelaide for at least the next two weeks, having previously shifted their AFLW operations to Albury when the Victorian border was closed to NSW residents. It’s a disrupted pre-season which Stack described as a “stressful situation” to the Irish Examiner last week.

“Thankfully it all worked out and [her husband and son] are able to be with me and we’re able to experience this as a family, which I think is just going to be a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity,” she said.

“I am very competitive and I want to see what I’m made of so when this opportunity presented itself, it really was a no brainer. I really want to be immersed in a professional setup and see everything that it has to offer and challenge myself with a new sport. I just hope that I do myself and my family proud and the team justice going forward.”

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Mother and baby homes scandal: Irish PM apologises to victims – saying ‘the state failed you’ | World News


The Irish prime minister has issued an apology following a report into the deaths of 9,000 children in institutions for unmarried mothers and their babies.

A five-year investigation by a judicial commission of investigation detailed how the children died at 18 institutions between 1922 and 1998.

Speaking today in the Dail, the lower house of the Irish parliament, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said that as a society “we embraced a perverse religious morality and control, judgementalism and moral certainty, but shunned our daughters.”

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The entrance to what is believed to be the site of a mass grave in Tuam

Mr Martin added: “On behalf of the government, the state and its citizens, I apologise for the profound generational wrong visited upon Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a mother and baby home or a county home.

“As the commission says plainly – ‘they should not have been there’.

“I apologise for the shame and stigma which they were subjected to and which, for some, remains a burden to this day.

“In apologising, I want to emphasise that each of you were in an institution because of the wrongs of others. Each of you is blameless, each of you did nothing wrong and has nothing to be ashamed of. Each of you deserved so much better.

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“The lack of respect for your fundamental dignity and rights as mothers and children who spent time in these institutions is humbly acknowledged and deeply regretted.

“The Irish state, as the main funding authority for the majority of these institutions, had the ultimate ability to exert control over these institutions, in addition to its duty of care to protect citizens with a robust regulatory and inspection regime.

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970.
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The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary

“This authority was not exerted and the state’s duty of care was not upheld. The state failed you, the mothers and children in these homes.”

Several of the religious orders which ran the homes have already apologised since the report’s publication, while there was a contrite apology from the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Accepting that the Church was part of an oppressive culture, he said “for that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologise to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it [the report] uncovers.”

Mother and baby homes were institutions where young pregnant women were sent, often under pressure from local clergy. There, they would give birth and eventually be separated from their children, who were offered up for adoption, sometimes in the US.

Irish society in the mid-20th century was deeply intertwined with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and pregnancies out of wedlock were seen as scandalous.

A shrine in Tuam, in memory of hundreds of children allegedly buried at the site
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A shrine in Tuam, in memory of hundreds of children allegedly buried at the site

There were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children in the mother and baby homes investigated by the commission.

Mr Martin had said the report describes “a dark, difficult and shameful chapter of very recent Irish history”, and spoke of the deep-rooted misogyny and “oppressive culture” that pressured women to enter the homes.

The Irish government will also provide financial recognition to the specific groups identified in the report, and push ahead with laws to support excavation, exhumation and, where possible, identification of remains at burial sites.

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Irish legend Kearney pumped to be at Force


He went from freezing conditions in Ireland to bench pressing his own hotel bed in Brisbane, but Irish rugby legend Rob Kearney was all smiles when he finally met his new Western Force teammates in Perth on Tuesday.

Kearney has spent his entire club life at Irish outfit Leinster and the star fullback jumped at the chance to experience something new when the Force came knocking in August.

Signing on the dotted line was easy, but getting to Perth amidst a global pandemic proved to be tricky.

Kearney eventually touched down in Brisbane last month when he was forced to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks with his fiance Jess Redden.

The pair got creative while in quarantine with Kearney even resorting to bench pressing the bed.

“It wasn’t heavy enough,” Kearney said with a laugh.

“I think I’ve lost a kilo or two after the few weeks quarantine. So I’ll be asking the boys to stack on more weight.

“I had a good pal who I used to play Rugby Union with – Ben Te’o. He’s with the Broncos at the moment and he dropped some equipment to me, a rower and TherraBands.

“When you’re forced to have to adapt, you can make sessions up pretty quickly and you can surprise yourself with how much work you can get done in a small room.

“My fiance is hugely into her fitness and she regularly ran 10, 12km a day in the bedroom, which put me to shame.”

Kearney, who arrived in Perth on Monday, said the safety Australia provided from COVID-19 plus its hotter climate were major drawcards in him signing with the Force.

He hopes to not only play a key role on the field but also help develop the club’s younger players.

“I’m very lucky that I’ve come from some teams and some cultures where we’ve won a lot of trophies and silverware,” Kearney said.

“Hopefully I can incorporate some of that winning mindset and what it takes to be a real high-performance team.”

Kearney finished up with Leinster in September and said he would gradually build up his loads over the coming weeks.

The 34-year-old is a rugby legend in his country, having made 95 Test appearances for Ireland and earning three Test caps for the British and Irish Lions.

Kearney’s arrival further bolsters a Force squad that went on a signing spree during the off-season.

Argentinian internationals Tomas Cubelli, Julian Montoya, Tomas Lezana, Santiago Medrano and Domingo Miotti have all signed, as well as Wallabies duo Tevita Kuridrani and Tom Robertson.

Former All Blacks Richard Kahui and Jeremy Thrush have re-signed from last year, giving the Force a huge international flavour.





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