The good and great of Irish rugby were in Britain to congratulate London Irish player Bob Casey on a successful sporting career.
Casey was joined in London by 500 supporters at the The Grange in St Paul’s, for his Testimonial Dinner on March 1.
The black tie dinner is the latest in a series of events to celebrate Bob’s achievements on the rugby field and his contribution to the community – particularly the development of children through sport. Another testimonial evening is planned for April 14.
Casey, who began his professional career at Leinster, was launched into the spotlight in 1999 following a call up to the Ireland squad at just 20 years of age.
In 2002 he signed with London Irish and with over 225 appearances under his belt has become a London Irish legend.
He went on to captain the club for over three seasons where he lead the Exiles to a Heineken Cup semi-final with Toulouse in 2008 and a Guinness Premiership Final in 2009.
As part of his testimonial year Bob is supporting three charities – GOAL, the Christina Noble Foundation and Cooperation Ireland.
Testimonial Committee Chairman Mick Crossan said: “Outside of his rugby he is the original gentle giant, with a wonderful caring nature, exemplified by his directorship of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation UK Board, just one of the charities that we will be supporting during the year.”
Among the hundreds who attended on the night were Irish internationals past and present including Brian O’Driscoll, Shane Horgan and Frankie Sheahan, as well as Samoan rugby international Freddie Tuilagi.
Other rugby pals there to support the man described as ‘Ireland’s finest export, included England/London Irish players Alex Corbisiero, Paul Hodgson and Shontayne Hape, London Irish player Declan Danagher and Wasps/England star Riki Flutey.
Casey, who was accompanied by fiancée Shauna and proud parents Johanna and Danny, took to the stage to say he was ‘overwhelmed’ by all those who had supported his Testimonial year.
“I’d like to think I made the best of the talent I was given,” he said. “It’s been an honour for me to have played with great clubs, Leinster and Ireland. Who’d have thought that when I signed for London Irish in 2002 I’d be here 10 years later celebrating 10 fabulous years.”
He added: “London Irish has always been home away from home for me. The people and the club they’ve always supported me massively.”
When asked his decision to retire from the sport, he joked: “You know it’s time to hang up your rugby boots when your missus challenges you to a 100m race and she wins!”
See this week’s Irish Post, March 10, for more pictures from the night.