Around 8,000 fans – many of them children – made their way to Cardiff Bay yesterday to celebrate Wales’s Grand Slam glory with their heroes.
Despite the chilly conditions, spirits were still high after Warren Gatland’s men had disappeared inside the Senedd for an official reception with Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler.
Stragglers continued to wave their flags as they trudged home, with murmurs of Hymns and Arias and We Are the Champions echoing into the darkening skies.
Supporters, who had begun to arrive hours before Sam Warburton was re-presented with the Six Nations’ trophy by First Minister Carwyn Jones, were entertained by a choir and rock band The Blims, whose song Sidesteps and Sideburns has already attained cult status.
Members of the squad paid tribute to the support they had received throughout the tournament. To cheers of delight, prop Adam Jones, also a part of Wales’s 2005 and 2008 Grand Slams, said: “Sometimes when things aren’t going our way we look at you guys and get an extra lift.”
Warburton, who was injured during the game, agreed. He said: “We did not expect this sort of reaction. I think it’s fantastic.”
And Gatland added: “The crowd that’s turned up makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.”
The First Minister paid his own tribute. “What we have here is a great team, a great captain, a great coach and a great credit to Wales,” he said.