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Today the Irish rugby team played a match against England. Big deal a lot of you may ask. However today was the first time an England team was allowed to play in the holiest of Irish holies. Croke park is the symbol of Irish Identity.More than that it has been the pysichal expresion of being Irish through not being English. Bloody Sunday happened here, during the war of independance. For decades the GAA hung on to the rule that English players, or even Irish players of an English game could not play on this field.
I have English family and have even met people who have suffered due to IRA terrorism. I have served Border duty, preventing terrorists crossing the border and even once arrested an SAS patrol thet had in advertantly crossed the border (the single most terrifying event in my life; the SAS being perfect gentlemen throughout). Members of my unit were attacked for being "Traitors". My Grandfather was a messenger boy during the 1916 rising. I have a personal connetion to most of the unpleasant episodes in Anglo-Irish relations. Today truely felt like and end to it all. Like burying the hatchet> I honestly cried when "God save the Queen" was played> I had been so scared that some elements would spoil it by booing. I was honoured to hear it sung proudly in Croke Park and honoured by the way the English players treated the event with respect, and faught hard through the game. The result pales in comparison to how you treated the event. Thank you so much for honouring us so.
I felt that an English game against an English team in such a place would be the perfect way to put the past behind us, To embrace our similarities, to celebrate what we have in common and how far we have come from the days of mutual fear and loathing. Sinn Fein had organised a protest against the event. You would not believe how happy I am that this did not overshadow this event. That the vast majority of the country welcomed your team, and the bravery they displayed in playing us at our best, and never giving up. The game may have meant little to you, but it meant everything to us. Too long have elements of our society held on to out dated modes of thought in Anglo-Irish relations, too long have we needed to mature and accept what happened between us and our more powerfull neighbours. For us this was a leap forward we had to make and one you treated with respect and honour.
To all English rugby fans on this site may I say well done and thank you for the honour. I imagine that only things like the the repatriation of the South African team after apartide compare to some people. I would welcome any comments of other examples that sport has acted as such an historic occasion for people. In this case it was the culmination of years of possative steps in international relations. Does anyone else have emotional experiences they would like to share through the medium of sport?
Last edited by Sammy the Squib; February 25th, 2007 at 20:03.
Australia suffers from an insane "National Identity through Sporting Excellence" attitude too, although fortunately it has never errupted into outright warfare because of it. Here in Australia, if you do not play sport, you are un-Australian (which is me). If you don't watch sport, you are un-Australian (once again me). If you don't barrack for a team of any kind, you're un-Australian (guess who...).
As someone with no personal sporting experiences to talk about, I still think that it is good to hear that occasionally things can be sorted out on the sporting field, and some long standing prejudices can be, if not forgotten, then at least put aside, for the betterment (entertainment) of the people involved.
I am glad to hear that finally there is acceptance between the teams (and most importantly, fans) of England and Ireland. I hope that this is only a forerunner of continuing peace and understanding between the two nations.
Mysterious Member of the ANZAC Clan