Australia v Ireland (Lansdowne Cup)- Rugby Union in Brisbane, June 2010

It must be stressed than generally in life:
1. I HATE rugby
2. I HATE anything associated with bringing the two countries in Ireland together

However over the years I have gotten into rugby a lot more mainly due to the Ulster rugby team winning the European Cup in 1999, but also my time here in Australia has introduced me to Rugby League – and my local team – the Parramatta Eels.

Of course there is a big difference between rugby league and rugby union. This match I went to, was rugby union, and was between Australia and Ireland in Brisbane at the massive Suncorp Stadium. Match ticket there.

By pure coincidence I happened to be in Brisbane at the time – the only week in my entire life I have ever spent in Brisbane and Ireland happened to be playing rugby there.

There are many reasons why I don’t support (usually) anything where the two countries on island are brought together, here’s a few:
1. I generally find those from the Republic of Ireland to be very arrogant and narrow minded (for example some of them don’t seem to have any respect for my culture or for the NI football team)
2. I generally find that I have nothing much in common with those from the Republic of Ireland.
3. The Republic of Ireland didn’t have a football team until 1949, yet they try to claim they are the Ireland team. Sorry but the Ireland football team is and always will be the one based in Belfast. The clue is even in the title – IRISH Football Association.
4. The Ireland rugby team play 95% of their matches in Dublin, Republic of Ireland
5. At Ireland rugby matches the Irish tricolour is flown by fans, yet if i bring my Ulster banner fleg I get dirty looks (one Ireland together, aye right)

So initially I was a bit sceptical going to this, but decided it was a team representing me in some way, with a few Ulstermen in the squad. Andrew Trimble being the only one I had heard of. The night began in a wee pub on the corner of Caxton Street. I got a taxi there with Owen and Elaine. This was the first time I had paid for a taxi in about a year. I really don’t agree with getting taxis, but some people don’t like to walk and when in a group, you sometimes succumb and go with the flow!

The bar had a World Cup Special of beers from around the world. Always like to try new beers.

I tried Obolon from the Ukraine in there. A new one for my collection. It was just above average, 6/10.

Me and Owen in our Northern Ireland attire and fleg for the evening.

Mingling with some home fans.

After a couple of drinks in the pub it was time for a wee dander down to the Suncorp stadium. Caxton Street was buzzing. We had already met Aidan and Emma, two of Owen and Elaine’s Irish friends. On the way down we met more Irish friends of theirs.

The queue to get in. Or lack of queue. One scan of the barcode and we were in…

We got in early before it filled up.

Me and Owen in Suncorp Stadium.

Owen, Elaine and me in Suncorp Stadium.

The joy of living in Australia – no queues for food or drink at big events – quite the contrary from the UK, where there is a lack of organisation in this respect. They even have the confidence to name the stand “quick beers” – they’re not wrong. “Over Crowded London” (copyright of me, 2006) could learn a lot from the Australians.

With my Northern Ireland fleg inside the Suncorp.

Pre match atmosphere.

Fish and chips! So cheap – $5 or something. I also had a small beer with them.

I bought my match ticket just a few hours before kick off yet had an amazing seat, and it was almost a sell out. Owen, Elaine and friends already had their tickets bought, so I was sitting further over on my own, towards one of the corners.

It astounds me at rugby matches how all the fans of opposing teams sit together and dont get upset when the other team scores. I was sat beside an Australian fan. We had a short chat – ironic that he had lived in Taiwan for a brave few years where he worked as an English teacher. His name was Neil – same name as my mate Neil who had lived with me in both Australia and England and had also lived in Taiwan as an English teacher.

The teams line up.

The Ireland rugby team.

First half action.

Number 10 Jonathan Sexton. He scored ALL of Ireland’s 15 points on the night.

An Irish attack. Well actually one of Sexton’s penalties.

The Aussies attack and get a try.

Ireland’s only points on the night came from kicks and we didn’t really threaten with a try. Despite a close first half, we lost 22 – 15 in the end. The Aussies scored two tries. And could even afford to miss a fair few penalties and conversions.

Good attendance!

After the match we stayed for the presentation, the Ireland captain did a speech and thanked the fans. It was incredible how many “real” Irish fans were there!

On the way out I met a boy from Belfast wearing a Northern Ireland shirt. That was nice to see.

We found a bar in a car park on Caxton Street. After the match we mingled there for a wee while. There was a drinking contest between Irish and Australians going on. Nobody won – both nationalities kept drinking long into the night. By which time we had ended up in the Pig and Whistle pub to watch Uruguay knock South Korea out of the World Cup.

After that walking home to Owen’s and some bigoted Irish guy from somewhere in the south shouts at me “what are you wearing a north of ireland soccer jersey to a rugby match for?” Hilarious, given that:

1. Its not “north of ireland”, its Northern Ireland (using this dick’s logic then Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal players etc. can play for us, since theyre in the “north of ireland”)
2. Its not soccer. Its football!
3. Its not a jersey. Its a football top.
4. He assumed I was at the rugby! What a dick. I was at the rugby but hey…
(these irish bigots will never learn and to find them still going on about freedom whilst sunning themselves on Bondi beach makes me laugh!)

Ireland all as one? For a quick rugby match maybe. For NOTHING else please. The Northern Irish culture is so different. I still don’t like being associated with those from “the Free State” (as it were).

I’m Irish, British, Northern Irish and European. You cannot deny me any of those labels.





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