Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Millar to receive top French honour at Ballymena

Out-going International Rugby Board chairman Syd Millar is to receive the prestigious 'Legion d' Honneur' - France's highest honour - at Ballymena rugby club next month.

Eaton Park will be transformed into a little piece of France on December 12 when Millar receives the award in recognition of his "immense contribution to rugby and for overseeing the delivery of the most successful Rugby World Cup to date as chairman of the Rugby World Cup."

The decoration, which was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to reward both soldiers and civilians for exceptional merit or bravery, is France's highest honour.

Typically, Millar, who stands down as chairman of the game's world governing body in December, wanted to accept the honour at the club where his illustrious career in rugby football began.

In another huge coup for Ballymena, the day before the ceremony, the IRB will hold a full committee meeting at Eaton Park when the hugely-important decisions about the introduction of new laws will be taken.

The official Webb Ellis trophy will also on display.

Some of the top names from world rugby are expected to be in attendance to see Millar receive his award.

"It is a huge honour to be given such a prestigious award and it very much appreciated," said Millar when informed of the honour.

"However, I feel that I am accepting the Legion d'Honneur on behalf of all of the IRB and Rugby World Cup personnel who worked tirelessly to ensure the delivery of Rugby World Cup 2007 in France.

"It was a memorable and ultimately successful Tournament that will be remembered as the most successful in Rugby World Cup's 20-year history."

Meanwhile, the Ulster fan who was attacked by Trevor Brennan in the Heineken Cup match against Toulouse in January has been awarded damages for libel at the High Court in Belfast.

Patrick Bamford, 26, sued the Guardian newspaper over its reporting of the incident at the match between Toulouse and Ulster last January.

The paper also published an apology which stated that Mr Bamford was an innocent spectator. Bamford's solicitor said his client had been " totally vindicated".

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