What began as a concept to mark the passing of a rugby legend has become an iconic image shared by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.
The simple and poignant graphic, showing a leaf shed from the iconic All Blacks’ silver fern, resonated with rugby fans across the globe following the death of the former winger Jonah Lomu on Wednesday.
The image has been shared by hundreds of thousands of fans around the world in the past 24 hours, with the Irish Examiner trending on social media in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and France.
New Zealand news website stuff.co.nz reported that “The Irish Examiner led with a simple but poignant tribute to the late great on their front page — a leaf falling from a silver fern drawn over a black background.”
The official Facebook page of the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby tournament also shared the “heartbreakingly simple” Irish Examiner front page.
Its post was liked over 110,000 times by yesterday evening, with more than 53,000 sharing the update.
Australian sports radio show The Rush Hour also shared the “wonderful” page one with its Twitter followers.
The New Zealand Herald described the image as “a moving tribute” to the great, while French site ‘Ministry of Rugby’ featured the Irish Examiner front page in an article entitled “L’hommage de la presse internationale à Jonah Lomu avec la très belle Une de l’Irish Examiner.”
“Following the announcement of the death of rugby legend Jonah Lomu following a heart attack at just 40 years old, some of the press paid tribute to him through beautiful images,” the site said.
“This is particularly the case of the Irish newspaper, The Irish Examiner, where the emblem of New Zealand, namely the fern, loses one of its branches. A beautiful symbol that transcribes perfectly what the player and man represented to this nation,” the article read.
The image led the round-up of international coverage on another French site — 20 Minutes — which described it as “brilliant and simple”.
“A beautiful idea, hailed on social networks,” it said.
Spanish sports site SportYou said that “the Irish Examiner, a leading Irish newspaper, has thrilled the world of rugby with a simple cover on the death of Jonah Lomu.
“In the image, a single sheet of silver fern coat of the All Blacks is falling, in mourning, with date of birth and death of legendary New Zealand wing.”
Acclaim for the front page transcended rugby, with former Ajax and Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot tweeting the image, describing it as a “brilliant tribute” to Lomu.
Closer to home, Munster Rugby hailed the graphic as “a beautiful way to mark a great”.
Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan said everyone at the newspaper was delighted with the phenomenal reaction to the image.
“Full credit here to the creative geniuses at our advertising agency, Chemistry, who devised the concept.
“Given the newspaper’s sporting heritage, not least in rugby, we wanted to mark Jonah Lomu’s tragic passing in a significant way.
“I was looking for a front page image that would do justice to such an iconic figure. Chemistry’s concept answered the need perfectly: respectful, sincere, poignant and creatively outstanding,” he said.
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