Joe Biden has wished the Ireland rugby union team luck in their Grand Slam game against England in Dublin on Saturday.
On Friday, St Patrick’s Day, Biden welcomed the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to the White House for a traditional visit and talks.
At an official celebration, with Varadkar standing by, the president introduced the former Leinster, Ireland and Lions full-back Rob Kearney, among a group of distant Biden cousins.
“I want to see you after this, pal,” Biden said, asking Kearney to stand up.
He added: “No offense to anyone but we know who we’re rooting for in the Grand Slam match between Ireland and England.”
Biden and Kearney also shook hands.
The president also has English ancestors but he seems unlikely to be disappointed in his support for Ireland on Saturday. Coach Andy Farrell’s team are prohibitive favourites to beat England and win the Six Nations championship with a clean sweep of five wins from five games.
The Irish are ranked No 1 in the world. They beat their nearest challengers, France, in a pulsating game at home last month. Last week, France beat a struggling England team 53-10 at Twickenham.
The US president has made no secret of his love for rugby union, which he has said he played for a year at law school in Syracuse, New York, in the late 1960s.
He has welcomed Kearney to the White House before, and has displayed an Irish rugby ball in the Oval Office.
In November 2021, Biden wished Ireland luck against the mighty New Zealand All Blacks, then called to congratulate them when they won.
Biden has also said that when he was a young US senator – he entered Congress from Delaware in 1973 – he followed an All Blacks tour in Ireland.
“My brother was a rugby player as well,” Biden said in Auckland in 2016, while vice-president to Barack Obama and during a meeting with two All Blacks forwards, Jerome Kaino and Charlie Faumuina.
“And one day when I was a young senator during a recess period, he said: ‘The All Blacks are playing four matches in Ireland.’ And so we packed up, and we followed them all through Ireland. There was nothing but carnage left behind.
“But I am a real fan.”
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