Ireland returns to Belfast

The Ireland rugby team will play their [url=]first full international in Belfast for 53 years[/url] against Italy on 25 August 2007.

The ground at Ravenhill has been used for under-age internationals and will also host the [url=]2007 Under 19 Rugby World Cup[/url] but the last time the full Ireland team played there was against Scotland in 1954.

Redevelopment of Ireland’s normal home ground at Lansdowne Road is planned in 2007 hence the move to Ravenhill. Ireland’s home games against France and England will be played in Croke Park. The Italians are competitive at rugby but are not the same standard as their footballing compatriots

This will inevitably spark the usual debates about anthems. Reputedly Ireland lined out to “God Save The Queen” when they last played at Ravenhill but I’ve been unable to confirm this. I expect “Ireland’s Calls” will be used as is the case for away games. “Amhrán na bhFiann” and “Ireland’s Call” are played at Lansdowne Road.

Personally I’d scrap all anthems and handshaking with assorted dignitaries and just get the game started as quickly as possible.