That was an incredible rugby weekend, with the nerve-shredding rollercoaster of the Six Nations finale on Saturday followed by Ireland’s women lifting their own Six Nations trophy on Sunday after a display of great verve and skill.
I find big rugby occasions like these very emotional now, as does Pauline. Tears, at times, are not far away. We think of Sean – a huge rugby fan – and how he would have loved to share these moments: and how, on some level, he may still be sharing them. He would have been so proud of Ireland.
Sport matters. On some levels it doesn’t matter at all (I have written before of how we operate on different levels); on others it matters a great deal. It can be an arena of moral and physical courage, excitement and skill; the identification it engenders can be uplifting and life-enhancing. At is best, it makes tribalism and/or nationalism joyful and sublime.
People who don’t ‘get’ sport are missing out, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter, yet it can matter so much.
Filed under Ireland, Sport
One of the good things about Ireland, I have often thought, is the lack of emotional distance between people: the fact that we (generally speaking) tend to see everyone we encounter as a potential friend, and are prepared to help when we can, or at least to interact and be friendly. The lack of reserve, of formality, of self-importance. Of course there can be a downside to national qualities like these, but it certainly doesn’t outweigh the upside in this case.
I think this photo, from thejournal.ie, captures the lack of emotional distance well. It shows the rugby player Jamie Heaslip at Dublin Airport yesterday, as part of the homecoming of Ireland’s victorious Six Nations squad, and a young fan. Heaslip is clowning around and pretending to be trying to wrestle the trophy from the boy, who surely will always remember the moment. Heaslip is happily giving something that he doesn’t need to give.
This generosity of spirit – also shown by the other players, who mingled freely with fans and posed in numerous ‘selfies’ – is something we should be thankful for. In the words of an old beer commercial, ‘it’s part of what we are’. It connects us and makes us stronger: we may not have much, but we know what we have.