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Sunday Life

Scrum guys have all the luck: Meet the rugby WAGs wishing Ireland all the best


Joanna Cooper and Conor Murray
Joanna Cooper and Conor Murray
Jacob Stockdale with Hannah Garrett
John Toner

By John Toner

Ireland captain Rory Best's final farewell on a rugby pitch will be a family affair as his wife, children, brother and parents will all be cheering him on at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Banbridge Rugby Club stalwart John Best and his wife Pat have already flown out to give their son their support.

And they will be joined soon by Rory's wife Jodie and the couple's three children Ben (10), Penny (7) and four-year-old Richie.

Rory's brother Simon - a former Irish rugby international star himself - will also be making the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Rory (37) is relishing the chance to go out on a high, saying: "Players love playing in big games and for me there's nothing bigger than the World Cup."

The Irish rugby team kick off their bid for World Cup glory on Sunday against Scotland and will be cheered on by a host of supportive wives, girlfriends and family throughout the competition.

Rory's replacement as Ulster captain, Iain Henderson, is unlikely to be joined by wife Suzanne in the tournament with the couple expecting another addition to the family.

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Rory and Jodie Best
Rory and Jodie Best

After having baby Lana last year, Suzanne is now pregnant again and will likely have to settle for watching Iain on the TV for the closing stages of the tournament, which Ireland expect to reach, in October.

Posting a picture of Suzanne and Lana on Instagram before heading out to Japan, Iain said: "Lovely day at the beach yesterday, going to miss these two over the next wee while" - with Suzanne reminding him: "...and bump."

The news about "bump" was confirmed earlier this month by Henderson's father-in-law Jim Flanagan, a former Sunday Life editor.

Iain Henderson with wife Suzanne and daughter Lana.
Iain Henderson with wife Suzanne and daughter Lana.

"The family are absolutely delighted," he said. "This is the second grandchild for both sets of grandparents."

The new arrival is expected early next year and Mr Flanagan said his daughter Suzanne, who is a dentist, will be cheering on her husband from home, adding: "We are just all absolutely thrilled."

Miss Universe Ireland 2015 winner Joanna Cooper (29), who was in her home city of Derry at the weekend, is also thought to be travelling to Japan to support Munster scrum-half and beau Conor Murray.

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The former journalism student and beauty queen recently landed a Schwarzkopf Live Colour modelling campaign. She lives in London, but splits her time between her 29-year-old boyfriend's home in Limerick and her native city.

"I do come home a good bit, it's like an hour flight so it's fine. But I don't know if I see myself moving back. Definitely not to Derry, anyway," she said last year.

Ireland winger Jacob Stockdale, who split up with ex-girlfriend Jessica Gardiner last year, will be cheered on by new love Hannah Garrett. It isn't known if she will fly out to Japan.

Jacob Stockdale with Hannah Garrett

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