Yesterday I went to a rugby match - the last time I was at a rugby match was at Lansdowne Road in February 1987 when Ireland beat England 17-0 in the then Five Nations Championship. Since then I have preferred GAA and soccer. But two friends were going to see the Leinster Schools Senior League Final between Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR) and Newbridge College in Donnybrook. Since I went to school in CCR (where I hated rugby) I guess I had a slight interest in the game, but I knew nobody on the CCR team.
Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable game in which seven tries were scored. Unfortunately for the CCR lads, six of these were for Newbridge who ran out very comfortable and deserving winners.
A feature for me was the fierce tackling by both sides - I was right at the side of the pitch and I could almost feel the crunching tackles. These guys put in a huge effort, even after the game was effectively over midway through the second half. The tries were well taken, and the Newbridge lads seemed to be bigger, stronger, and faster throughout. These guys are just 18 years old - what effect will this level of rugby have on them in later life if they keep this up?
There was a great atmosphere at the game with the Roscrea supporters singing and chanting right to the end of the game in support of their classmates. They definitely "won" the supporters competition in the stand. I remember this very well from my own days on the sideline, and I can safely say that many of the songs and chants that were sung yesterday evening were also song by us back in 1977. Some things never change!