Search icon


17th Oct 2023

Jack Conan and Bundee Aki pull flight announcement stunt to cheer Sexton up

Fiona Frawley

jack conan bundee aki sexton flight

Bundee Aki and Jack Conan took on the role of flight attendants during the Irish rugby team’s trip home from Paris.

The Irish team left the French capital earlier than they would have liked due to their Rugby World Cup quarter final loss to New Zealand.

Ireland were favourites heading into the game but a ropy start, which saw them go 13-0 down after 20 minutes, had them on the back foot from the outset.

Ireland battled back into the game but crucially, due to some gritty defending, the All Blacks hung onto book a semi-final date with Argentina next weekend. The final scoreline was 28-24.

The Ireland team shared a flight home with supporters on Monday afternoon and despite the frustrating ending to their campaign, the team tried to keep spirits high.

After the game, many of the Ireland players mentioned their disappointment that, above all else, the loss made for an unfulfilling ending to Johnny Sexton’s career.

Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

So Conan, a Leinster team-mate of Johnny Sexton’s since 2014, tried to cheer up the legendary out half on the flight home. He jokingly called on their fellow passengers to come up and ‘congratulate him personally.’

“Everyone move up and congratulate him personally,” Conan told passengers over the intercom. “He’d absolutely love that. Make it single-file. Come up and give him a pat on the back, a hug and a kiss – he’d love that. He’ll be over the moon,” said the number eight.

Jack Conan and Bundee Aki attempted to cheer Sexton up on the flight home from France.

“He’ll take photos, answer questions, anything you want, Johnny is just delighted to meet everyone.

He has all the time today for everyone. Please take your time, come up and say hello to him. He is just so ecstatic about it all.”

Bundee Aki also joined the fun, noting that Sexton has all the time in the world due to his retirement. “Because he is retired, he has the time on the way,” he added.

Hooker Sheehan had given a sense of the squad’s respect and admiration for Sexton after the game.

“I grew up watching Johnny,” he said.

“I never thought I’d be in the same room as Johnny, never mind share a team or share a jersey with him.

“I guess that’s when it hit me that you know, you think that’s Johnny’s last game.

“All he’s done for me. The leader he’s been towards me, for this team.

“I’ve never seen anyone like him. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime person. I’d say he’s the greatest player ever to wear an Ireland jersey and he’ll be missed, but he’s done us so proud.”

Meanwhile, the Irish players were greeted by their fans on their return to Dublin airport.

 16 October 2023; Tadhg Furlong of Ireland on the teams return at Dublin Airport from the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Paris, France. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Header images via Twitter/RTÉ News & Getty 

This article originally appeared on


– Brendan O’Carroll plans to sell bread and sausages at Mrs Brown’s Boys live shows in US

– Penneys discontinues cotton pads as part of sustainability effort

– Crowds gather to see dolphins swimming along the River Lee in Cork