Bent should go through the correct process before Ireland selection
FRENCH NOTES:It’s right to spend time in the provinces before donning the green jersey
Trying to explain to all of you, born in Ireland, that there are more than 70 million of us around the world who also consider ourselves Irish, is an argument that I know I am not going to win.
Millions born in the new world migrant countries like America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, consider themselves, like me, to be of two countries. I am Australian and Irish. I am both. I am from the Irish diaspora.
I understand that you simply can’t get your head around this. You are cynical and I can hear “The Plastic Paddy” syndrome rearing its ugly head in your thoughts.
I will be frank. Long ago I stopped caring what people think about me on this topic.
I also support the Irish national rugby team, even when they play Australia, and if you don’t like that or don’t believe me that is your problem not mine.
In Sydney, I went to school with a lot of Irish Australians. There were also Italian, Polish, Lebanese and Chinese Australians who remain, to this day, my friends.
At school we were all Australians. At home we each lived in the culture of our heritage. As kids we did not understand this or even know what a “culture” was.
The food and language spoken at the homes of my friends was different, our physical appearances were different, yet we did not care, as we were all good mates.
Looking back, it is like we had a switch that we could turn on or off. We were Australian when we were together at school and we lived as Irish or Italian or Chinese when we went home.
All over Australia that was normal. You had two nationalities, but you never even thought about it.
I also remember going to family parties and the Irish songs being pounded out on my aunties’ piano. My cousins and I would hide. If we were discovered we were press -ganged into singing.
It never occurred to me that the same scene was being played out in Boston, Liverpool, Newfoundland and all across the Irish diaspora.
That diaspora has been a great source of talent for the national team. There is a prestigious list of Irish internationals who were not born on the island of Ireland. The strength of the Irish rugby diaspora struck me when I was in camp as coach of Ireland A.
I was astounded by the variety of accents. Not only could you hear the tongues from the four provinces, but also the English accent of players like the Easterby brothers, the New Zealand of Mike Mullins and the Australian of Keith Gleeson.