02:50AM, Thursday 20 March 2014
A sight-seeing tour in Paris took an unexpected turn over the weekend when a mother and her son from Maidenhead ran into Brian O'Driscoll and the victorious Irish rugby team.
Noelle Freeman had taken her 11-year-old son, James, to the French capital to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc De Triomphe but ended up encountering the team, who were staying in the same hotel, on Sunday morning as they came down for breakfast.
The Irish players were fresh from beating France the night before to seal the RBS Six Nations title, and gave James the rare opportunity to hold and pose with the trophy.
He was also given the chance to meet and get autographs from the players, including the legendary O'Driscoll, who played in his final international match on Saturday.
"It was really quite amazing," said James, who said his favourite Irish player was O'Driscoll. "It was really exciting and we didn't know it was going to happen."
He added his friends 'couldn't believe' what had happened when he returned to St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School on Monday.
The family has Irish heritage and are supporters of the men in green, while James and his brother Joseph, seven, make regular trips with their grandfather to see London Irish play in Reading.
Noelle, who lives in Altwood Road, said she had not realised the Irish team would be in France when she booked the trip, which was a treat for James as he neared the end of his time studying at primary school.
The mother-of-three said: "There were lots of Irish supporters in the hotel.
"In Paris itself it felt like mini Dublin and everyone was in a very good mood."
She added: "[James] was made up.
"He couldn't believe his luck."
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