As the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in Japan continues with every passing day, Vodafone has kicked it up a notch with their Ireland's Ball campaign.
Vodafone Ireland, official sponsor of the Irish Rugby team, rolled out their "Ireland's Ball” campaign ahead of the team’s departure to Japan. In partnership with Gilbert, Vodafone has created a world-first ball grip that features the fingerprints of 32 people representing the 32 counties of Ireland.
Representing Laois on the ball is Rugby fan, Dennis Phelan from Ballacolla. The ten year-old attends Clough National School and loves all sport, but especially rugby and plays as a hooker.
Ireland’s Ball is a unique rugby ball that celebrates the diverse fabric of modern Irish society. The 32 people selected to contribute their fingerprint to Ireland’s Ball represent Irish rugby fans and the #TeamOfUs from every corner of the country.
As part of the campaign, one lucky rugby fan will be given the opportunity to present the ball to the Irish team at the Aviva stadium on the 6th September. The ball will travel to Japan with the team this September as a symbol of support on behalf of the whole nation.
Today, Vodafone have announced the lucky fan to present the ball to the Irish team is rugby superfan and Portarlington Rugby Club player Alex McHugh.
Alex (11) along with his parents will travel to the Aviva Stadium on Friday for the handover with a full day of activities planned with Joe Schmidt and the Irish squad.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, his Mam Lynn recalled where his love of rugby came from:
"His older brother plays, and Alex did the Leinster Rugby camp here in Portarlington three years ago. He just loved it, and he's loved it ever since!
"He plays with Portarlington Rugby Club himself. He's with the Under-12s at the minute and you couldn't make him miss a session.
"He asked Santa for tickets to rugby matches for Christmas, so we've been to quite a few matches since.
"Over the summer he's been re-watching the matches over and over. He knows all the players and the moves. He's just rugby mad!"