Irish Rugby team's diluted identity

  • 8 October 2007
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The controversy surrounding the IRFU's decision to dispense with the national anthem and flag goes further than the stated effort to accommodate players from the north of Ireland.


For many years now, the identity of the Irish rugby team has become so diluted that it hardly stands for anything at all. It seems that the IRFU operates as if Ireland was still a united country within the British Union.

After all, the 'triple crown' is a trophy contested between the three 'kingdoms' of Ireland, Scotland and England/Wales.
The British Lions team is only called the British and Irish Lions when being referred to in Ireland. Throughout the rugby world, this team is rightly considered the British Lions as it was formed to represent players from the so-called British Isles. It is merely delusional to insist on calling the team 'British and Irish'.

During last years Six Nations competition, Keith Wood referred to Ireland as a 'home nation', ie a nation within the British Union.

All these examples point to a lack of identity within the Irish team and the irish rugby establishment as a whole. Fake flags and anthems are one thing, but while this identity crisis exists, how can we expect the national rugby team to properly excel in international competition?