George V. Reilly

Rugby Grand Slam

Irish Rugby Football Union logo

I grew up hating rugby. I spent eleven years at a rugger-bugger school in Dublin. I couldn’t stand the game. I was a small, unathletic child with no interest in sports. Rugby, even the modified rugby that they teach seven-year-olds, was violent and unpleasant and involved running around cold, wet fields. I had a big operation on my feet when I was 10 and I parlayed that into an excuse never to play rugby again.

I can’t remember when I last watched a rugby match, but it was surely back in the ‘80s, as I doubt I’ve seen one over the 20 years that I’ve been in the States.

So imagine the im­prob­a­bil­i­ty of my watching rugby today. Truly a historic occasion. But not just for me, but for Ireland too. The Irish team won the Grand Slam for the first time in 61 years.

Some Irish friends invited us over for a big Irish breakfast and to watch the match. To be honest, I was more tempted by the food than the match, but I ended up enjoying the game. It was a close game and a nail-biting finish. It was the first time that Emma had watched rugby and she thought it was more in­ter­est­ing than the slow, staged plays of American Football.

I was also reminded why I had never wanted to play rugby. It is often said that rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen, while soccer is a gen­tle­men’s game played by hooligans, and the former was borne out today. A dangerous, bloody game.

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