The English rugby union squad has sought some expert advice ahead of the match against Ireland at Croke Park in Dublin.

This has little to do with playing tactics, the size of the pitch, or even coping with the unpredictable Irish weather.

The English have asked for a lesson in history as they seek to diffuse what some are predicting could become one of the most volatile rugby union matches of all time. Why?

There is a school of thought, particularly among pub landlords, that religion and politics should never mix and they ban such topics from being discussed in their bars. Throw in the equally emotional subject of sport and the oil and water analogy barely begins to explain the uncontrollable mixture bubbling away.

This is still a rugby match, let it not be forgotten.

The weight of history and the political overtones will inevitably be difficult for some to ignore. The events at Croke Park in 1920, when British soldiers killed 14 people on a day that become known as Bloody Sunday, provide the sort of backdrop that puts the importance of sport in general firmly into perspective.

Yet there will be many keeping their fingers crossed that Saturday’s match passes as nothing more than a great sporting occasion.

The fact that the UK and Irish governments considered – but rejected – a symbolic commemoration of what happened in 1920 highlights the sensitivities that exist, but also points to the fact that this remains a rugby match first and last.

It is likely we’ll get an intense, emotional and highly charged encounter on Saturday – but hasn’t that always the case when these two teams have met in recent years?

Leave the politics and religion to one side for one day at least. The sport will provide plenty to keep our heads and hearts occupied.

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2 responses »

  1. sanchez333 says:

    Couldn’t agree more with that mate. I think everything will be ok if it goes to plan (i.e. England lose).

    This should be a pretty exciting game, I hope nothing outside the match happems to spoil it.

  2. […] All three matches produced some interesting passages of play and some well taken tries. There was plenty of emotion in all three matches too – for a variety of reasons. […]

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