Rugby and ‘Ireland’s Call’

 

Sir, – I write to take issue with Johnny Watterson’s article “Time to call a halt to the embarrassing ‘Ireland’s Call’” (January 27th), and in particular his reference to Ireland’s Call being a “sop” to players from Ulster. Your writer is right about one thing in that there is a problem with the anthems played before the Irish rugby team’s home fixtures. However, the problem is not with Ireland’s Call but Amhrán na bhFiann. This anthem should not be played prior to Irish rugby matches, and furthermore the Tricolour and the President of the Republic of Ireland should have no part whatsoever in the pre-match formalities.

The Irish rugby team (unlike the soccer team) is a transnational sports team that encompasses two separate countries, political entities and indeed cultural identities. The players and supporters from Northern Ireland are from the United Kingdom and therefore for them Amhrán na bhFiann and the President of Ireland are the official anthem and the head of state respectively of a foreign country (ie the Republic of Ireland). Furthermore, several of those players and supporters from Northern Ireland (ie the United Kingdom) strongly identity themselves as being culturally British.

As a proud Munster man and Irishman, I find it embarrassing that we still deny these basic incontrovertible facts and that the IRFU still inflicts the official political trappings of the Republic – Amhrán na bhFiann, the Tricolour and the President – on our transnational, multicultural rugby team. It’s therefore time to ditch Amhrán na bhFiann, the Tricolour and the President of Ireland’s role from the pre-match formalities.

I wholeheartedly embrace Ireland’s Call, as whatever one’s view on the merits of it from a musical perspective, it accurately reflects the plurality and history of our proud Irish rugby team. – Yours, etc,

DAVID O’CONNOR,

Fulham, London.

Sir, – How many players have represented Ireland from areas such as Tallaght, Ballyfermot, Finglas, Ballymun, etc? It seems that if one is lucky enough to attend a fee-paying school then there is a seriously higher percentage chance of making the Irish rugby team. In addition, the pathetic Ireland’s Call is an insult to our only national anthem. Let’s sort out our discrimination at home first before we castigate others. – Yours, etc,

FERGAL GAUGHRAN,

Mount Merrion, Co Dublin.