If you, like I did, watched the six nations clash between Ireland and England on Saturday, you too might find it hard to focus on the game itself. This is because the British national anthem was played at Croke Park, the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1920 when British auxillaries gunned down players and supporters in a revenge attack.
There are people alive today whose friends and relatives died that day and you could be forgiven for assuming the Irish crowd would react negatively to the anthem being played at the scene of such an emotive historical event. But not only did they applaud the English team out on to the pitch, like all rugby crowds treat their opposition, they stood in respectful silence while God Save The Queen was played and applauded warmly afterwards. It brought a lump to the throat, it really did.
I’m posting this in the football section too because every moronic anthem-booing England fan should take note of how to behave, how to move on and accept, if not to forgive, the errors of the past. I still have no idea why some England football fans boo opposition national anthems beyond some pathetic attempt to upset that nation’s team but I do know that the Irish would have had a stronger case for doing so. 87 years of hurt for starters.
As for the game, England were outplayed in every area of the pitch. We lacked pace in the centre and it was exposed. The Irish pack was more powerful and passionate and the flair was all from the men in green. The kick through for Horgan’s try was sublime. We could only really have hurt them on the wings, in my opinion, but the Irish defence strangled our possession, won plenty of our line-out ball and stopped us working it wide. The one time we did, the debutant Strettle scored and he was a bright point for us. England didn’t necessarily play too badly, they were just outclassed.
Oh and one final thing… Scotland v Italy. What the hell was that first six minutes all about? I have never seen the like in my life. And if you didn’ see it, get a video and watch it. It is amazing and, for an Englishman, extremely amusing.