Winning Reds get keys to the city - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Winning Reds get keys to the city

11/07/2011 04:08:12 PM Comments (0)

It's not often that Brisbane hands over the keys of the city and a Victorian-born rugby coach is made an honorary Queenslander.

Hot on the heels of the Maroons' sixth straight State of Origin victory came another historic moment for Queensland sport on Saturday when the Reds, the team just about written off in Super Rugby a couple of years ago, won the 2011 final against the Crusaders.

On Monday it was time for Brisbane to celebrate with thousands turning out to cheer as the champion team paraded through the Queen Street Mall.

In some places they were packed four and five deep, with the mall's seats and garden edges becoming vantage points for fans as they cheered and chanted the rallying cry, "We are Red, we are Red."

An appropriately coloured red police car led the parade, but the next car contained the people and the prize most fans wanted to see - captain James Horwill, vice captain Will Genia and coach Ewen McKenzie and the newly-minted trophy.

Fans were able to get close to their beloved Reds as the rest of the team walked behind up to the stage at the top of the Mall, where they were met by Premier Anna Bligh, Brisbane lord mayor Graham Quirk, Sports Minister Phil Reeves and more cheering fans.

Centre Anthony Faingaa told AAP it was fantastic to see so many people out on a Monday.

"(It) just tops off a great season for us. Today is a fantastic day."

"When I first got up here (in late 2008) you couldn't get a Reds shirt and you never saw any Reds shirts out and now there's Reds shirts everywhere which is just fantastic."

Lock Adam Wallace-Harrison agreed.

"This is sensational. It's just unbelievable, I didn't think anyone would be here," he said.

"I was there way back in 2003 and 2004 and there was not much following then, but it's been good and that crowd on Saturday was absolutely amazing."

On stage Ms Bligh wasn't afraid to push the Queensland message.

"This morning the maroon flag went up on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and today we celebrate the win of the Queensland Reds, all proving again that 'Nothing beats Queensland.'"

For a change there did not appear to be anyone there who was ready to disagree with the premier.

Ms Bligh told the fans the Reds win had boosted interest in rugby union around Queensland and around Australia.

"They are our champions and today we honour them," she told the crowd to more cheers, before leading the crowd in the chant "We are Reds, we are Queenslanders."

And there were plenty of honours to be handed out.

McKenzie, who was born in Victoria, and has also coached the NSW Waratahs, was made an honorary Queenslander by the premier.

She also presented the team with Queensland Champion Awards before Mr Quirk handed over the keys to the city.

Mr Quirk told the crowd it was not an honour given away lightly, and Monday's presentation was only the 32nd time in the city's history, around 130 years, that the keys had been handed over.

When the tradition was first established in medieval times recipients were freed from paying tax, but neither the lord mayor nor the premier was willing to go that far.

In fact the premier laughed when the suggestion was put to her.

"Two years ago nobody would have thought this was possible and here they are today, the Super Rugby Champions of Australia.

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