Normality and rugby

In the review of the up-and-coming Heineken Cup final, I made the observation that the sports media have been unused to writing about Ulster given the lack of success in recent times.

Player profiles by sports journalists seem to fall into 3 topics; the faith of the players, the foreign players, and the faith of the foreign players.

Now the social commentators have started as well, except they only have one topic – rugby and that protestant/catholic thing in the north.

Starting the ball rolling was Let’s celebrate this ‘normal’ Ulster rugby rising in Monday’s Irish Times, then Ravenhill drawing them from all sides in Thursday’s Irish Times and the Indo got in the act as well with Ulster reaping rewards of peace.

The angle seems to be that rugby seems pretty normal. But this is the north, so that isn’t normal.


Twickenham prepared for Saturday

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  • I did notice this morning that the Irish Times had the old NI flag illustrating a headline about Ulster Rugby. Similarly, there’s a quote in your last link (from the indo) that seems to confuse the two:

    But there has been a definite softening of attitudes and the GAA community has rallied behind the Ulster cause. And Eastwood explains that they are easier to spot than you might think.

    “If you go to Ravenhill on a Friday night, you will see so many Gaelic people in the crowd it is incredible,” he said. “There’s an interesting wee thing, the old Ulster flag is a white flag with a red cross, but the more Irish-minded people say the true Ulster flag is yellow with the red cross, and you would have seen plenty of them at Thomond Park.

    There still seems to be a lot of confusion between “Ulster” and “NI”…

  • Republic of Connaught

    Indeed Andrew,

    Why wouldn’t nationalists in Ulster support their provincial rugby team?

    It only when people start trying to call their province a “country” separate from the rest Ireland that nationalists will obviously reject it. ie. the Northern Ireland football team.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think you start with a simplification there RoC. The history of Rugby makes this much easier to achieve. But it’s also clear that Ulster rugby has worked at this.

    In my day there were no Catholics, nor indeed many working class Protestants who played rugby north of the border. The fact that you have such an overlap with GAA, is extraordinary today.

    That has to have been worked at. It did not happen overnight of its wn accord. Soccer ironically always dd have a critical mass of both communities, but it was the only code that aped political partition with one of its own. And it keeps trying to deepen that partitionism.

    Ulster rugby has more than a few lessons for the other two codes. I suspect, and I hope they find a way to do it.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I wonder does Ulster rugby really need people like Barry McElduff supporting them. His “observations” of the Ulster contingent not singing the “national anthem” at international games is not very helpful when Ulster rugby is bringing the game across the divide. Why bring it up? He will be trying to get the “6 county” NI flag removed from Ravenhill next. He is not a rugby supporter and as a “politician” he should no better. He should be shown the door at Ravenhill for trying to stir things up. SUFTUM!

  • Dec


    Rugby was always popular across the divide, at least in international terms. The advent of professionalism and the general raising of standards has increased attendances across Europe and Ulster like other teams has realised that a broader appeal is essential to survival.

  • Alan,

    What monoculturalists like Baz simply don’t get is that many of us in NI (and in the wider UK and probably even the ROI) are in fact a mosaac (or mess as the likes of Baz would probably have it) of identities. For the likes of McElduff, you’re catholic Irish or you’re a Brit hun, nothing else, in between, is possible.

    For me the question of GSTQ is a complete non-starter when talking about Ulster Rugby- it would be disrespectful to our fellow Ulstermen from the *lost*;) 3 counties.

    It would be nice if our fellow Irishmen in the IRFU had shown the same respect to us before designating Belfast as a foreign venue but that says much more about their version of *Irishness* than it does about ours.

  • Presby

    Fair enough Alan on some of Mr McElduff’s more ‘political’ observations.Of course one of the reasons Ulstermen do not sing the anthem is because a. they weren’t taught it at school and (therefore) b. they can’t speak Irish!

    But it’s moreover untrue. Tommy Bowe played for Ulster and happily sang the anthem playing for Ireland in recent years. Coming from Monaghan, he’s also reason enough to show why 9 county Ulster flags are not inappropriate.

    I’m not sure Mick about the past and the issue of RC involvement. Certainly pressure from the GAA left a lot of Catholics out in my college team back in the day. Ironically it was through rugby in the early 90s that I met RCs for the first time in my life. The team I subsequently played with in Belfast was mainly RC at times.

    Rugby like society still has a long way to go. But it’s definately a sport I want my kids to be part of and learn from fellow players and supporters across Ulster and Ireland.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, I’m going back a bit. When Catholic schools only played Gaelic and soccer. And most Catholics only went to Catholic schools. There’s been a massive change on that latter score.

    I loved rugby as a kid, but the schools were the feeders for the local clubs then. If you didn’t get skills and the team experience by 16 you didn’t consider playing for the club.

    Schools like Rainey always took in large chunk of Catholic pupils, as did Methody. But I get the sense that’s become a much broader change in the last twenty to thirty years.

    As for the anthem thing, he may have felt he had to say something slightly controversial.

  • RyanAdams

    I personally have no time for politicians who turn up to Ravenhill and try to spin it like its some sort of great achievement for nationalists. There are more Ulster provincial flags than Ulster banners on any given night, and the only union jack in sight now is a subset on the New Zealand flag some fans fly for prop John Afoa. In the case of Barry “Ulsterman attends Ulster match” …. yawn. I noticed he was more than happy to pass remark at the Union Jack that used to stand at the Onslow entrance when he first attended a match as DCAL chair, yet the tri-colour is flown at every GAA match up and down the island and we’re told GAA is a cross community sport?? Hmmm. IFA and the GAA could learn a lot from Ulster.

    This is a little spot I made back in January and had to applaud sparky.!/SparkyUR/status/159710895906369538/photo/1

    Oh, and SUFTUM!

  • Oh look, ‘true’ NI Ulster fans trying to pick and choose who should support ‘their’ team. Alan, as Dec says, rugby was always popular across the divide only the propensity of Ulster supporters to fly the Stormont Banner banner put many of us off (lesson for the NI soccer people). I live only a stones throw from Ravenhill and enjoy getting down for a game and on my visits I’ve met many fellow GAA members and republicans, including ‘Baz’. In fact even Joe Brolly was waxing lyrical in the Gaelic Life a few weeks ago about the discipline and respect rugby fosters in young players (his son plays for Malone), so before you get all possessive and shit you might want to remember a significant part of the income for the (now professional) Ulster rugby team comes from northern republicans like ‘Baz’, Joe and myself.

  • lamhdearg2

    I just watched a rerun of season tickets 10 year tribute to the 1999 euro winning team, great stuff. I was not looking for the first maybe 10-15 mins, but i am quite sure there was not a nine county (Elizabethan) Ulster flag on show, I see many at Ravenhill and they dont offened me, but they do seem to be carried by those with the loudest of posh accents. com’on the Ulster men* come sat .
    *from all nations.

  • Presby

    Yes indeed. I suppose the wider issue still remains for Ulster rugby, namely the development of the game beyond the handful of top playing schools. No doubt lots of talent coming through from either religion. But filtered through the school system. Not much good if you’re not in that system. In truth it’s likely the same in Leinster. And in fact Munster where the top schools have fed the provincial set up there too.

    Anyway, Saturday’s coming. Gutted because of work, I’ll not be there.

  • Presby

    Here Ulick – you used the terms ‘discipline’ and ‘malone’ in the same sentence there. They never knew much discipline in all the years I was there lol. Best club in Belfast though!

  • RyanAdams

    Thousands of rugby fans including myself from the unionist tradition are more than happy to go to the Aviva where there is a ‘propensity’ of tri-colours around. Its the way its always been, and I wouldn’t change it for the world or let it put me off enjoying the sport I love.

  • antamadan

    I can’t find the right thread for this RTÉ documentary on Irish soccer, but as this is a sports thread, a lot of you might be interested in watching on RTÉ player the history of Irish soccer (All Ireland obviously)

    I’d skip the first 10 minutes as deadly boring/general football foundations, but the whole IFA v FAI story is interesting, with a bit of blame to go round of course. It seems they almost got an amalgamation going at one stage only for a personality dispute, which was news to me.

  • Mike the First


    Your opinion, then, of the Republic of Ireland flags at Ireland matches?

  • Mike the First


    Come on Ulster tomorrow!

  • lamhdearg2

    Thanks antamadan.

  • @Mike, any Irish game I’ve been to in Lansdowne Rd has both the Irish national and Ulster flags on the flag poles with supporters waving both in the stands. I’ve no issue with either. Neither do I have an issue with people waving the old NI banner at Ravenhill, the difference being nowadays the equal use of the Ulster flag (red and yellow) makes for a more inclusive atmosphere.

  • Mike the First

    The ROI flag is a lot more evident than anything representing NI (and the provincial Ulster flag is hardly equivalent). The use by the IRFU of the ROI flag and provincial Ulster flag defies logic!

    The predomant banner among supporters at Ireland matches though seems to be the green O2 flag – I sometimes wonder why the IRFU don’t make the IRFU flag available in replica (some fans did have it at the World Cup).

  • derrydave

    The times they are-a-changin, and isn’t it great to see ! It’s certainly true that Rugby was completely irrelevant in the Derry that I grew up in. There was City of Derry Rubgy club on the Buncrana Road, but it was very much viewed as a protestant sport and so the only contact we’d have with it was in fightin with some of the regulars comin out of their functions at the weekend (just kids stuff happily). Always did seem a strange place for a Rugby club – not sure if it’s still there – don’t think so, but haven’t been down that way for some time now.
    Have grown to appreciate and enjoy the sport now as I have grown up – very much enticed into the fray by the success of Munster and then Leinster. Great to see Ulster becoming successful again, though like many / a few nationalists in the North my allegiences lie elsewhere and I’ll be cheering on Leinster at the weekend. Hard to know / explain why I’ll not be supporting my home Province – probably a mix of the old messed-up tribal politics of the North added to the genuine excitement and pride I’ve felt at watching Munster and then Leinster conquer all in front of them over the last few years. There is however no animosity felt towards Ulster and I hope they go from strength to strength in the coming years and gather the support of many like me who have been lost to Ulster to date.
    PS It has to be said – Barry really was being a bit of a prick when mentioning the lack of singing from the Ulster Contingent – no need for that at all.

  • derrydave

    PPS Anyone know a good place to watch the match in Gujarat in India ??? 🙂

  • JR

    I have to say Derrydave, i really can’t understand an ulsterman supporting Lenster.

    I saw that doccumentary on IFA v FAI, it was very interesting. Was also amazed that the deal to re-unite the two associations was worked out at a meeting in Liverpool and would have come to pass only for a petty row that broke out between people at the meeting.

    Finally, This 9 county Ulster is a bit of a myth, As anyone who has read the Tain knows the geographical boundary of Ulster was the boyne. That means it would have included louth. 10 couties!

  • JR,

    In the days that Ulster included Louth, Cavan was part of Connacht. In some ways, it’s a more logical boundary (cf this map of Irish dialects:

  • Mike the first,

    The IRFU can be faulted for some questionable decisions (“foreign” Ravenhill being another example) but at least they are trying. Perhaps the time has come for an apolitical “sporting” Ireland flag, for the same reasons that we have a “sporting” anthem…

  • JR

    Andrew, that map is from 1972, the time I am talking about the whole area would have been gaeilic speaking.

  • JR,

    Of course it was. But isn’t it remarkable how the pre-Tudor boundary of Ulster survives?

  • Barnshee

    “There was City of Derry Rubgy club on the Buncrana Road, but it was very much viewed as a protestant sport and so the only contact we’d have with it was in fightin with some of the regulars comin out of their functions at the weekend (just kids stuff happily). Always did seem a strange place for a Rugby club – not sure if it’s still there – don’t think so, but haven’t been down that way for some time now.

    City of Derry –imagine having th temerity to have a Rugby Club in er Derry –they are long gone from the address called the “Branch Road” despite the main entrance being on the Buncrana Road. They got fed up picking up the glass from the pitches after PIRA had bombed them again (as representatives of the “occupiers”.) They took the hint and fled along with the rest of the prods to the “waterside”. Fled so far from the centre that some said it shoild be called Eglinton Rugby Club.

    They were heavily prod- filled with Foyle old boys– the mick element was, from memory, professionals /teachers who had played rugby at training college /university in England

    PS They had one of the Greatest No 8’s ever to play rugby the late great Ken Goodall

  • derrydave

    Couldn’t remember it ever being bombed Barnshee and so had to google it – you’re right of course it was bombed in way back in 1979 / 1980 (when I was a mere cub – hence the lack of memory) and the club were so ‘fed up with glass from the pitches’ from this bombing campaign that they did decide to sell their land to the IDB and move to the waterside……… 1992 🙂

    Still, your story does fit the whole ‘protestant holocaust in Derry’ thing, and that’s what’s most important 🙂

  • RyanAdams


    “though like many / a few nationalists in the North my allegiances lie elsewhere and I’ll be cheering on Leinster at the weekend. Hard to know / explain why I’ll not be supporting my home Province. Hard to know / explain why I’ll not be supporting my home Province – probably a mix of the old messed-up tribal politics of the North added to the genuine excitement and pride I’ve felt at watching Munster and then Leinster conquer all in front of them over the last few years.”

    Sounds to me like its just a bit of good old fashioned glory hunting? I’ve been to Ravenhill / the errigle on match nights many times with nationalist friends who have loved every minute of it, although I have met the occasional individual in other places who prefers to support Leinster for tribal reasons. These individuals tend to often be a lot more interested in soccer anyway, so in my view the tribalism (IFA v FAI) is often indoctrinated through that sport and therefore is likely to spill onto any team preference in any other sport the individual is likely to have a passing interest in.

    Mike the First

    I can’t understand why their isn’t an official IRFU flag with the shamrock logo on it … and ditto for Ulster – they seem to be extremely hard to find.

  • Barnshee

    “Still, your story does fit the whole ‘protestant holocaust in Derry’ thing, and that’s what’s most important”

    I personally picked glass off on 2 occasions The club was regulary vandalised It was well out in country in those days.

    There was a schism in the club as far as I can remember and a new club was formed in the waterside—-Londonderry YM ?? and City of Derry declined
    Again (its a long time ago) I think the old guard wanted to stay at Branch Road but the industrial development of Buncrana Rd not to mention the regular abuse of property and players left them isolated hence the eventual move

  • derrydave

    So just to clarify Barnshee, the move to the waterside wasn’t really due to them getting ‘fed up picking up the glass from the pitches after PIRA had bombed them again’ after all.
    Good to know 🙂

    RyanAdams, wouldn’t really argue with anything you’ve stated. We Irish do love a bit of glory – god knows we don’t get a lot of it ! And being a big soccer fan myself, I have to admit your theory probably does have some truth to it. Hope it’s a great match with O’Driscoll scoring the winning try in the closing minutes ! Will be a great day for Ireland and Irish rugby regardless.

  • Mick Fealty

    You are really rooting for Leinster Dave? Munster I can just about understand! But the Jackeens? Bad dose of self loathing if you ask me (which you didn’t)…

    We need all the luck we (Ulster) can get… And much as I love the BOD, I’d rather we nicked it at the end… Ala City last week…

  • There is a bit of a sporting feast today (particularly if you like, as I do, football, rugby and cricket).

    Later, I have an encounter with friends at the local. With the Rugby at 5 and the soccer at 7.45, that is quite a lot of Heineken to get through.

    Before I get brainless, I will be supporting Ulster and Bayern Munich (the latter because I support Spurs)

  • Mark

    Snap Seymour re the sporting feast . Currently watching playoffs with the Hammers and Blackpool …Blackpool back level !

    Bandwagon Leinster fan in recent years so with a few Ulster team regulary turning out for Ireland ( try to ignore all the flag and athem crap ) , Irish rugby has already won the day .

    Tough shouting for Chelsea ( Terry and Frank Leboeuf ) tonight but I thought that before the Barca game and ended up cheering them on .

    Mick , I don’t think there’ll ever be another ala City . I certainly hope not !

  • derrydave

    Yep Mick, that’s right I loathe myself because I prefer Leinster over Ulster…sheeesh ! Don’t go in for the whole hate the jackeens thing – love Dublin, love watchin Leinster – hope they smash Ulster to f**k today (in a nice way of course) 🙂

    May the best team win – that’d be Leinster for any of you who didn’t already know 🙂 Only gutted that I’m missing the match (I think) as stuck in Gujarat in India – a dry state 200km from the nearest beer 🙁

  • Greenflag

    Leinster and Chelsea to win though I have to admit I’ve more confidence in the former than the latter . Once upon a time Chelsea were a great away team but then that was a few moons ago 😉

  • Cant watch the Rugby.
    I have West Ham & Leinster in a double.

  • derrydave

    Power, skill, experience – how could you not love a team like Leinster 🙂

  • RyanAdams

    Truly showed why they are Number 1 in Europe. Totally blindsided by the scale of that victory.

  • Mick Fealty


    That was intended to be taken with a large slice of irony. And yet, Ulster is your birthright. Why give it away?

  • ayeYerMa

    Andrew Gallagher, what is that “old NI flag” you speak of? You must mean the yellow one which went out of date in 1922.

    The source of any confusion is the IRFU and the institutions of rugby. If they are going to define teams on the basis of archaic internal divisions of the British Empire, then they need to be consistent.

    For example, using IRFU logic it was demanded that the British Isles Lions team was renamed “British and Irish Lions”. Using IRFU-logic surely that must mean that then the “Ireland” team should be renamed “Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland” or more similarly “Ireland and Ulster”, and the “Ulster” team renamed “Northern Ireland and Irish border counties” or Ulster and Southern Elizabethan Ulster”! Of course consistency would not be in line with the Irish Nationalist agenda!

  • Greenflag

    Ulster made a game of it for the first half but there’s always next year . Leinster brilliant on the day the best in Europe by a mile .

    And dear oh dear good old Chelsea did it . Drogba joins the ranks of the ‘immortals’

    What a day and then Dubliner – Katie Taylor wins the world boxing championship by defeating the Russian Sofya Ochigava

  • Mark

    Leinster took European rugby to a new level ,

    Chelsea took jamminess to a new level ,

    And Katie Taylor will take feel good stories to a new level at the Olympics this summer ….

  • BluesJazz

    Sports story of the day is Heart of Midlothlian (Hearts) destroying their pathetic Edinburgh ‘rivals’ in the cup final.
    Men against boys.

    Well done to all British clubs :Hearts and Chelsea won, and Ulster were beaten, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

  • lamhdearg2

    Our biggest sporting event had a mixed day, good weather, even sunshine greeted the riders and fans at the N.W.but tragedy struck with the death of Mark Buckley, Mark from Scotland was killed after an accident in the superstock race. The thoughts of all go out to his family.

  • SK

    “Well done to all British clubs :Hearts and Chelsea won, and Ulster were beaten, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.”


    Oh dear. Sit down Ulsterman.

  • lamhdearg2

    Are hibs not british. that makes it two wins and 2 losses. unless we count leinster as from the british isles, but then some may point out that Ulster rugby is only 66% british. ohh i am confused.

  • Dec

    ‘And yet, Ulster is your birthright. Why give it away?’

    Ulster are a professional club, not a representative side. Personally, I ffind it impossible to root against the greatest Irishman to ever play the game.

  • lamhdearg2

    so if he spent his last games playing for an english club(unlikely), and that english club where to play munster in nexts years final, you would be supporting the english club.

  • derrydave

    Mick, either you’re not understanding irony or else I’m not, for I fail to see any irony in you post. Good to know that supporting a club rugby team from Belfast is part of my birthright haha ! It’s amazing the gifts given to you at birth that you didn’t realise 🙂

    Sport is all about feeling – Ulster don’t feel like my team. Simples. Leinster on the other hand really are something special – a phenomenal team – they’ve taken the baton from Munster and really stepped up another few levels – amazing team to watch, and a team all Irish sports fans should be proud of ! SUFTLM !!!

  • Mick Fealty


    Well, we all cut it up our own way. I follow two clubs. Irish and Ulster. Mostly they play in two different leagues so the conflict rarely arises for me.

    When it has I genuinely don’t try to resolve it. I’m happy either way. And in the end I was happy up to point with a Leinster win yesterday (losing by less would have been more reassuring). Just blooding the Ulster players in a major final was good enough for now.

    Look, I’m not saying you *should* support Ulster. You are far from the only one who feels like this ( But it’s not something I was aware of before. And I’m genuinely surprised by it.

    I do take the point that none of the ‘provincial’ teams are representative any more. But at the same time you don’t get many Cork born Leinster supporters to the pound.

    Maybe it’s to do with the wilderness years, when David Humphries was almost the only regular on Eddie O’Sullivan’s Ireland teams. But whatever the reason I hope Ulster keep the upward trajectory.

    It’s a positive reinforcement bigger successes attracts more players, a bigger and wider pool means higher standards and hopefully an even broader support.

    And all of it positively reinforces the power of the Ireland team!

  • derrydave

    Agreed, as I stated earlier I have no real ill-feeling towards Ulster. They just don’t feel like my team. No doubt it’s all a result of the messed up tribal politics of NI, however rationalising it does not change the fact that they don’t feel like my team – sport and allegiences don’t work that way.

    Would be more than happy however for my son to become an avid Ulster fan in the future – the world is changing quickly and for the better, and within a generation Ulster will probably hold the allegience of most in our province much like Munster and Leinster in theirs. As a sports lover I am always happy to see local teams do well, even if I have no particular affinity for the team in question. Yesterday was a great day for Irish sport regardless of who you ‘support’……however as a sports fan it really is amazing to see an Irish team create something extraordinary, something which will go down in history – it doesn’t happen very often SUFTLM !

  • lamhdearg2

    mick, you* should have run a thread on last weeks setanta cup final, where the local northern team from a british country, who play in a “foreign irish league”[sic]* , got beat by by a more southern team, from ireland, who play in a british league. is that irony, i am not sure, but it was fun (mostly fun some digbats)reading the comments elsewhere.
    * or someone else.
    * not sure if this a correct use of [sic].

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m more than happy you read those comments elsewhere… But what was your point?

  • lover not a fighter

    A bridge too far for Ulster but they have come on in great strides this year.

    They have some very promising young players behind the scrum i.e. Gilroy, Jackson, Darcy.

    Its great for Irish rugby to have Ulster on the up. Hopefully Munster can rebuild and that Connaught can also improve.

    Surely Ireland with Kidney have to attempt to play the Leinster way. The question is whether Kidney has it in him to evolve from his tried and trusted (and now unfortunately out of date) way of playing.

  • lamhdearg2

    Not trying to make a point, other that drawing attention to identity confusion in football, along the lines of the identity confusion diplayed by commenters and public alike regards ulster rugby.
    But if you prefer, delete my comment.

  • Mick Fealty

    that is sn interesting topic, but ideally suited to its own thread. hapoyfor u to have a crack at it? 100/200 words just to lay out the territory.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Unlucky Ulster. They would have had a better chance against a French or English team. Up against an excellent Leinster outfit who have the psychological advantage of having beaten them so often made it a lot harder.


    Yes, the commentatora and public were all confused about the identities of two Irish provincial sides.

  • RyanAdams

    I just can’t ever seem to get my head around it … I read some interesting comments on facebook from individuals in various places in Ulster hoping Leinster won as that was better than ‘westbrits’ getting their hands on the trophy … Followed by a comment allegeding most Ulster fans would have missed the match because they were too busy marching. I just miss the republican idea that they are not welcome in the sport. Especially when some of the most avid fans are from the ‘lost three’, ie their fellow country men?

  • derrydave

    At it’s most basic level it is probably just a simple case of Ulster Rugby not seeming quite so ‘Irish’ as Leinster or Munster Rugby. With much of the support being from the other ‘tribe’ and considering themselves and possibly the team as being British then it seems clear that the team will have less of an Irish identity. Therefore those who consider their Irishness as a particularly strong part of their identity (a part which has been denied over the years by many in the other tribe) may feel less inclined to support or hold an affinity for Ulster Rugby.

    At the end of the day it is sport and it really should not be a big deal. It is an interesting aspect of how society and identity has developed here in the north, but it’s nothing anyone should really get too worked up about. I’d imagine it is something which is not unique to us here in Ireland either, and which is prevalent in other societys which contain a mix of nationalities.

  • Republic of Connaught

    I think that’s naive, Derry Dave.

    The Ulster rugby team isn’t the “our wee country” Northern Ireland Loyalist guff you see at Windsor Park.

    It’s actually Ulster- all nine counties. And there’s more Nationalists in the nine counties of that province than Unionists. So why you would support Leinster above Ulster is beyond me.

  • RyanAdams

    Dec, I wouldn’t call them professional clubs in the sense of English football types who have more independence and control over themselves. All provinces receive subsidies from the IRFU and are actually bound quite heavily by IRFU regulation, so its important to distinguish that they are pretty much representative sides and are partnered with the body responsible for promoting rugby within each of the regions.

    If you look closely at the top you’ll see the Ulster branch logo beside the Ulster one, along with the traditional provincial logo and the words Irish Rugby Football Union.

  • derrydave

    ROC – it’s not a case of being naive or not – I’ve just explained my perspective on why it is that a few / many nationalists in the north feel no affinity with Ulster Rugby. It’s not something you either choose to have or not, it’s not a conscious decision you make, it’s just a feeling. It’s you who is naive if you think that stating that there are more nationalists in the 9 counties than unionists makes any difference.

    I’ve explained in pretty basic, easy to understand terms – if you still fail to understand and it’s still beyond you then hey-ho, such is life !

  • Dec

    ‘pretty much representative sides ‘

    I realise there are guidelines they have to operate within, but they’re a long way off being truly representative sides (and Ulster are not unique in this respect), given the nationalities that make up the team.

  • derrydave

    ps ROC, I think you’ll find that Windsor Park is a pretty welcoming place to all on days / nights when NI play, with none of the ‘Loyalist Guff’ you claim you would see there. Regardless of this however most nationalists won’t support NI – cause the afinity and feeling is not there.

  • RyanAdams


    True. The nationalities issues is going to be forcefully redressed bu the IRFU, at the expense of all of the provinces success I believe on the back of the THP and 12/13 issue at national level. That said though, its uncommon for a IE player to opt to play for a province or team other than his own. Yes, there are a few but its more of a case of exception to the rule.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Derry Dave,

    That’s fair enough. But there is a big distinction between supporting the 6 county separatist NI football team that plays GSTQ as its anthem and supporting a 9 county Ulster team which is part of an All- Ireland rugby structure and whose Ulster born players play for an All-Ireland rugby international team.

  • constitutional publican

    If Ulster wants their team to be seen as a team that can embrace all strands of Ulster identity, then they need to drop that loyalist rag they fly around stadia during matches…. Adopt the Yellow and Red, fly the real Ulster flag, and then you might get support across all 9 counties!

  • lamhdearg2

    loyalist rag , where have i heard that before, Golf.
    cp, could you explain why the Elizabethan 9 county version of Ulster and its flag hold such a favored position in the Irish nationalist mind.

  • Mick Fealty


    On a point of information, the FAI voluntarily partitioned itself off from the IFA. So strictly speaking the 26 are the real separatists here. 🙂

  • Republic of Connaught

    Indeed, Mick. And I’m sure the folly will be rectified in the years ahead.

    I’d be happy for a future all Ireland football association to be basedl in Belfast. But Dublin is the capital and more accessibe for people from other corners of Ireland so most games would still be played there. Plus Belfast badly needs a proper stadium.

  • Mick Fealty

    It really does… I interviewed Niall Quinn back in 05 and his view was it would be done by a positive two way move towards each other…

    He thought the Setanta Cup was a good way to move in that direction, but he also pointed out one association only needs one bureaucracy… Not sure either is keen on losing theirs…

  • There ‘s a good history of Irish football on RTE at the moment; the opening programme played on Wednesday last. Here’s the blurb

    Episode 1: 1863 – 1929

    From the invention of the game by a group of English public school men who put rules and structure on a chaotic and poorly defined pastime, to the establishment of the Irish Football Association, the gaining of a foothold in the public consciousness in Ireland and the eventual acrimonious split between North and South. The episode concludes with the successful fight for FIFA recognition for the new Association which would lead to their first professional international match against Italy.

    This first match was an accommodation bewteen two catholic countries according to the Belfast Tele.

  • sonofstrongbow

    I’m pretty comfortable with whichever provincial rugby team Irish nationalists support. We should just be thankful that the thread is not packed with whining about good Irish lads playing ‘garrison games’.

  • Alan N/Ards

    constitutional publican

    Looking forward to the day the irfu and gaa do away the green, white and gold/orange “republican rag” that flies around The Aviva and gaa grounds on match days. Maybe when they do this, they might get support across all 32 counties.

  • RyanAdams

    constitutional publican
    “If Ulster wants their team to be seen as a team that can embrace all strands of Ulster identity, then they need to drop that loyalist rag they fly around stadia during matches…. Adopt the Yellow and Red, fly the real Ulster flag, and then you might get support across all 9 counties!”

    The provincial is the more common flag seen at regular games down at Ravenhill on a Friday night. The atmosphere at the Aviva was different and a significant % of that 42,000 Ulster fans are more accustomed to stadia in BT9 than BT6. Its partially down to the fact Ulster don’t sell their own flag and they are very hard to come by. The Ulster branch take nothing to do with the Stormont banner i.e. its not flown officially at or sold at Ravenhill. We already do get support from all nine counties and all shades of the community. If a minority, and I mean extreme minority are going to start bitching off about a flag they don’t like being flown by some fans then I think its best for all you don’t bother darkening the turnstiles at Ravenhill. As I’ve stated before, I have travelled to the Aviva on a number of occasions and I have to look at tri-colours all over the place, it doesn’t bother me for the fact I am there for the rugby, I’m not there to complain about flags.