Twitter alive with praise for Irish rugby squad after defeat of world champions South Africa - with Bundee Aki singled out for special mention

Aki sprinting clear during the game against SA (Photo: /)
Aki sprinting clear during the game against SA (Photo: /)

Eliciting special mention was Bundee Aki, the 33-year-old centre whose performance was at the heart of the Saturday night clash in Paris, which ended 13-8.

Born in New Zealand, Fua Leiofi Bundellu ‘Bundee’ Aki has played for Ireland since 2017 and last night was his 50th international cap for the squad.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson MP wrote online: “What a fantastic win for Ireland. That was a game of masterful rugby.

"Absolutely world-class. A crucial victory on the path to the final.”

And Sinn Fein regional leader Michelle O’Neill dubbed it “a magnificent victory for Ireland under the bright lights in Paris to make it three wins from three!”

UUP chief Doug Beattie called it a “brutal match and a fantastic win”, while the SDLP’s Claire Hanna called it “an unforgettable weekend in Paris – allez les vertes [up the greens]!”

One of those watching keenly was former Ireland player and veteran of the 1987 world cup Trevor Ringland.

"The good thing is they nearly have two full teams, so when they bring the subs on they’re as good as the guys they’re replacing,” he said.

"[Saturday] was a test to show just how good they were, because they had two matches before that which didn’t really test them.

"They were against a very, very good South African side, a very powerful one, and they matched them.

"It was a high-class game. It could have gone either way, but fortunately, it went Ireland’s way.

"It’s a great credit to them, and fair dues to their coach as well.

“They’re doing us all proud.”

Among other fans the question of deserved ‘man of the match’ met with a near-unanimous response.

CaolanSRugby (@CaolanSRugby) said: “It’s hard to start anywhere else than with this man, Bundee Aki.

“The Connacht bruiser is at world best form at the moment, and was incredibly disciplined too despite his crunching tackles.”

David Flatman (@davidflatman) said: “I’m going to find out what Bundee Aki has for breakfast and have it every day for a year.”

Séamus Carten (@seamus_carten) said: “What a match.. brutal, fierce, absorbing contest!

"Two best teams in the world put on some show! Bundee Aki again a tour de force performance. Epic enthralling watch. Well done boys!”

Seán (@seeaanoconnor) wrote: “Look at how impressive Bundee Aki was in contributing to Ireland’s running game yesterday vs South Africa!

"No wonder he was man of the match, he's having an absolutely insane tournament and long may it continue.”

And Old Guy (@BallsontheLine) tweeted: “Just read that Bundee Aki's father is Hercules. That's a bit unfair” (a reference to the fact his father is, in reality, named Hercules).

Now three games into the contest, Ireland lead the Pool B table with 14 points to the Springboks’ 10.

The next game will be against Scotland on October 7.