I’ve had my heart broken in 2013. Twice in fact. First by the Jacks and then by the All-Blacks. It was no consolation that commentators and pundits termed the Kerry-Dublin match on the 1st September as the greatest game played between the two long-term rivals. And the close defeat by New Zealand on 24th November, when the All-Blacks scored a try in the last twenty seconds followed by a conversion which was taken twice, was about as appetising as a sewerage-soaked piece of rat-bait. Travelling to Dublin for events is not cheap so I left the capital on both occasions with a broken heart and an empty wallet.
After the rugby match I moved the melancholy to some place other than my conscious mind and reflected on the positives, as any good therapist would advise. The All-Blacks game was my first visit to the new Lansdowne Road – I’m not a fan of naming rights so will never use the A word. At the start of the game, as I sat waiting for the Haka, I couldn’t help but notice the architectural magnificence of the structure and wondered what other small country has two world-class stadia in its capital city. As we mauled our way through the post-match BMW-saturated lanes of South Dublin, I re-visited Lansdowne Road’s splendour in my mind and opened up a discussion from the backseat about Ireland’s bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. By Naas we had decided on the stadia for the group stages.
Ever since New Zealand successfully hosted the 2011 Rugby World Cup (and successfully won it as well) a constructive debate has kicked off regarding the possibility of hosting the tournament on the island of Ireland and the benefit such a tournament would have on the bank balance and moral of both countries. This debate has now moved from the barstools to the corridors of power with a cross-border working group set up by the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive comprising of key bodies associated with preparing a bid1. However, the bid will go nowhere unless the GAA make selected stadia available. Progressive Killarney has already got the ball rolling with the Fitzgerald Stadium Committee Chairman giving his full backing for such a move2.
The 2014 Six Nations Championship kicks off this weekend and for a few weeks the country goes rugby mad. Our banking system may be a shambles and access to affordable healthcare in this country is criticised by Amnesty International. But one of the few things Ireland does to an exceptionally high standard is sport. Hosting a Rugby World Cup would showcase us at our best and be a much needed boost to our economy. And so what if we don’t win. I’d rather be rich and heartbroken than be a poor loser.
© Hazel Joy 2014