Shane Hegarty of the Irish Times writes this morning criticizing the idea of schools holding a Mass before a rugby match. Pondering the question over tea and toast, there seem much more fundamental questions that might have been asked about schools’ rugby in Ireland. No other rugby playing nation seems to get so fixated about the performances of teams of fifteen schoolboys. All four Irish provinces hold a tournament, but the Dublin-centric Irish Times focuses upon the Leinster schools.
I enjoy rugby. I particularly enjoy French rugby; but maybe watching in warm Basque sunshine after a glass of wine is always going to be a more agreeable experience than standing in Irish rain and mud. As a Sassenach, it all seems odd. Random questions come to mind:
What is the function of the schools’ cup?
Why does it matter?
Does anyone remember who won last year?
Does anyone who is not involved with rugby even care?
What is the perception of the schools’ cup amongst the 800,000 members of the GAA?
What is there in rugby that prompted the GAA to bar it being played in their facilities right up until last year?
When rugby was being played even in Catholic schools for generations, why was it still possible for it to be characterized as a ‘foreign game’?
Is there a social agenda being served by the inordinate coverage of a competition that in sporting terms is of no great significance?
Why does the progressive Irish Times not give similar coverage to the schoolboy soccer tournaments? Or are working class kids not as important?
Why does the anti-sexist Irish Times not cover girls’ sports in anything like a similar way?