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Galway lauds its World Cup heroes

In a week when immigration was firmly in the national spotlight, three Australasian-born Connacht and Ireland rugby players who have embraced Galway as their home were celebrated by their adopted city for outstanding contributions to sport.

Ireland Rugby World Cup heroes and this year’s Six Nations Grand Slam and Triple Crown winners – Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham and Mack Hansen – were the toast of a reception hosted by Mayor of Galway, Eddie Hoare, at City Hall on Tuesday.

Mayor Hoare lauded Aki, a New Zealander of Samoan descent, and Australian born Bealham and Hansen, for their “outstanding achievements” in 2023.

“New Zealand’s loss and Australia’s loss is most certainly Ireland’s gain,” said Mayor Hoare, who recognised the trio’s positive “influence and impression” on young people.

A former Galway footballer, Mayor Hoare said that, despite not advancing to the semi-finals, the players excelled in France this summer.

“Beating the overall winners in your pool, South Africa, and just coming up short against New Zealand (in quarter-final). I know you would have liked to have won it but irrespective of the result you did yourselves, your families, your province, Ireland, and this city proud,” he said.

Caption: Bundee Aki poses outside City Hall with Mayor of Galway City, Cllr Eddie Hoare, and Connacht Tribune journalist Dara Bradley.

Get the full story and photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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