Rugby – Fee Paying School Sport or Sport for All !!
Rugby has been on most people’s minds in the last few weeks thanks to the Rugby World Cup that has just finished in England last weekend with New Zealand been crowned World Champions for a 3rd time.
This particular event has again raised a question in this country, is rugby a game for all or is it for people that are in private education?? Take one look at the 4 School Cup competitions in Ireland, The Leinster Schools Cup is arguably the biggest of the four and this is the most likely way for players to get into the Leinster academy and therefore this will give them the supposed best route to getting into the Leinster first team or any of the other provinces first team squad’s.
The Leinster Schools Cup is a sight to behold and is a top competition and with Roscrea winning this past year, it showed that even small schools can play with the big boys even if it is only for one year. In Ireland of course, rugby is behind GAA and Soccer in terms of popularity, there is a GAA club in every parish in every corner of the Ireland, there are Soccer clubs in most parts of Ireland. Rugby for a long time has had to play second fiddle to both of these sports.
The GAA is part of Irish identity and that will never change, Soccer has also found its home in Irish sport thanks to Jack Charlton and his squads that made history by going to Euro 88, Italia 90, USA 94. His tactics may have left and a lot to be desired but the feel good factor that swept across this Island while his team made each Tournament.
Rugby has struggled to find its niche in the Irish life. Only certain people would own up to watching or playing the sport in the past because of “The Ban”. In the last 20 years with the advent of the Heineken Cup and now the European Champions Cup, it has brought Rugby to a whole new audience. In Ireland of course people now know about the 4 provinces and how many of those people are involved with their local rugby club if there is one in your local area.
The IRFU is doing what it can to bring Rugby to the places in Ireland that it hasn’t already reached. In Ireland one has to think that no matter what success comes Ireland’s way in the next few years that it will still play second best to both the GAA and Soccer and that the way it is !!!
Cian Mc Gibney