It was an arduous experience requiring stamina, steady feet and a strong constitution - and that was just the post-match wind-down, if these pictures are anything to go by.
The England rugby team were confirmed as the winners of the Six Nations championship on Saturday - despite losing to Ireland in Dublin - and many of the squad marked the occasion with an all-night party in a local nightclub complex alongside their wives and girlfriends.
Billy Vunipola, who made his return to the national team in the game after three months out with injury, was pictured arriving at the city’s Russell Court Hotel in a sharp suit and tie at 12.45am yesterday. The venue, a short drive from the team’s own hotel, is renowned as a party hotel in the city and boasts two nightclubs and a late-night bar.
Billy Vunipola emerged from a Dublin nightclub looking worse for wear after a tough day on the field against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday
He was pictured earlier arriving at the city’s Russell Court Hotel in a sharp suit and tie at 12.45am with other players, their wives and their girlfriends
The venue, a short drive from the team’s own hotel, is renowned as a party hotel in the city and boasts two nightclubs and a late-night bar
But the No.8 seemed bereft of the clever footwork he is famed for on the field when he emerged from the hotel four hours later.
Looking dishevelled with his shirt open and tie discarded, the bleary-eyed Vunipola had to be helped to a waiting car wearing what appeared to be a cloth garment similar to a sarong tied over his trousers around his waist - and was still looking a little delicate when the squad checked out of the Conrad Hotel early yesterday afternoon.
An onlooker who saw the squad check-out said: ‘Vunipola was squinting at one point - as though he couldn’t bear to open his eyes properly. Then another member of the team party came over and touched has forehead, as though he was checking the player’s temperature.
‘It must have been a heavy night out but they all deserved to let off a bit of steam after such a gruelling game and series.’ The players were driven by bus to the Russell Court Hotel complex from the five star Conrad, a quarter-of-a-mile away, following a post-match team dinner elsewhere. England had earlier missed the chance to clinch back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams. Ireland ran out 13-9 winners in a result which also stopped England setting a record for 19 consecutive Test wins.
Mike Brown, centre, and team mate Jonathan Joseph arrive after what was a tough game for England on Saturday
Maro Itoje, one of the stars of the Six Nations who has only recently broken into the team, arrives at the Dublin hotel
Jonny May walks out of the venue in the early hours of the morning after a loss against Ireland
Players arrive at the Russell Court nightclub looking smart in sharp suits earlier that night, with Mike Brown (right) showing a mark from the game around his eye
A witness at the Russell Court hotel said: ‘The bus was waved in by security guards so they must have been expecting the team. As the bus pulled up bouncers lined up outside to try and stop photographers taking pictures.’ It is thought the man pictured helping Vunipola out of the club at around 4.30am was a member of the squad’s security team.
Vunipola and brother Mako, 26, who also plays for England, were born in Tonga, where their father, Fe’ao, captained the Polynesian Island’s rugby side. The family only came to the UK in 1999 when Vunipola senior signed for Pontypool RFC in south Wales.
His unusual choice of attire when leaving the nightclub yesterday may have been a nod to his heritage. In common with many Polynesian islands, Tongan men often wear a sarong-like garment known as a Tupenu, a traditional item of clothing which wraps around the waist to cover the knees and ties at one side.