herald

Monday 21 August 2017

What a weekend I had in Edinburgh, can we please do this every year?

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell

As a child, I never watched much rugby. Maybe it's because we saw it as a blokey sport and I came from a household of seven women.

Or maybe you only played rugby if you went to a posh fee-paying school in Dublin, and therefore we had no connection to the game at all.

But over the last few years, I have been learning more and more about the rules, the skills, the personalities, the rivalries.

It's true to say that I am late coming to this game, but it has been worth the wait.

Last week I met up with a pal from Edinburgh who had miraculously got tickets for herself, myself and a pal to the Ireland-Scotland match. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time.

It began with a big bacon sandwich and a glass of prosecco to set us up for the day. We headed along the West End of Edinburgh before the match, to go and have a cheeky beer before the game.

anthems

Standing in the sunshine we sipped our cold beers and chatted about how Wales were unlikely to beat Italy by 40 points. An hour later, we left. Shell-shocked. Wales had done the job, and a sea of Irish fans made their way into Murrayfield.

The stadium was bathed in sunlight and we arrived as the national anthems were about to be sung. The Irish fans belting out ours as loud as the could but the Scots won hands down.

The mood was incredible. Scotland wanted to win, no doubt about it. But second best was Ireland winning. They applauded when we played well - two Celtic sides friends and foes all wrapped into one. The elation of the win was carried into the Murrayfield Hotel across the road, where the three of us went to see England play France.

Allez les Bleus? Yes, but come on Ireland!

If you think the Irish like to see England lose, you ain't seen nothing like the Scots! As the final whistle blew, we all screamed. Hands, hats and beers went up in the air. Ireland had won the Six Nations.

The celebrations went on, and on. Can we do this every year?

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