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Rugby World Cup 2023: “Ireland’s call”, the anthem of one people

Saturday October 14 in the evening, there will be tens of thousands of them to make the Stade de France in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) shiver. All in green, all standing to sing Ireland’s Call (“Ireland’s Call”), the anthem of one people. In the stands, there will no longer be Catholics, Protestants, nationalists or loyalists. When the Clover XV, led by Jonathan Sexton, faces New Zealand for a place – unprecedented – in the last four of the Rugby World Cup, its supporters will all shout together, all united behind Ireland , their island.

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Let us pause for a moment on the words of this patriotic song with a rather military tempo: “From the four proud provinces of Ireland

– Ireland! Ireland!

– Together standing tall

-Shoulder to shoulder

– We’ll answer Ireland’s call! »

(“From the four proud provinces of Ireland – Ireland! Ireland! – Heads held high – Shoulder to shoulder – We will answer Ireland’s call!”)

By mentioning “four proud provinces” gathered, the anthem symbolically abolishes the border which has separated, since 1922, the three provinces of Eire (Leinster, Munster and Connacht) and that of Ulster, to the north, with six counties out of nine attached to the United Kingdom.

We owe this unifying feat to the rugby fraternity, achieved despite the years of civil war which tore the island apart. Because if Ireland has two national football teams – that of Northern Ireland and that of the Republic of Ireland – this is not the case in rugby, where a single group, combining players from the North and players from South, represents the country in international competitions. The XV of Clover depends on a single federation, created in 1879 and whose flag caused a scandal for a long time having always displayed the emblems of the four provinces.

A unifying song ordered

Despite this fierce desire to play in unison, unease was evident on the field and in the stands until the end of the 1980s.. Before a match, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the orchestra plays God Save the Queen, the national anthem of the United Kingdom. When in Dublin, land of the Republic of Ireland, it is a Gaelic song that resonates: theAmhran na bhFiannwhose English title is A Soldier’s Song (“The Soldier’s Song”). This tune was, among others, that of the nationalist rebels during the 1916 Easter Rising – the revolt against the British which took place in Dublin – which led to the partition of 1922.

The images broadcast on television during the Five Nations Tournament (France, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales) showed players lined up together on the pitch, but prevented from singing with one voice: those from the North refused to ‘into there Soldier’s songthose of the South remained silent when the God Save the Queen.

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