Sunday 17 December 2017

Choose life, choose nostalgia for the city that changed you

Irish rugby fans Chloe Grace, Orlaith Butler, Katie McCann and Ciara Flanagan on Edinburgh's Royal Mile ahead of today's Ireland vs Scotland clash at Murrayfield Photo: Ian Rutherford
Irish rugby fans Chloe Grace, Orlaith Butler, Katie McCann and Ciara Flanagan on Edinburgh's Royal Mile ahead of today's Ireland vs Scotland clash at Murrayfield Photo: Ian Rutherford

Fiona Ness

Twenty-one years ago my cousin owned a flat in the shadow of Murrayfield from where, of Saturday afternoon, I'd hear the roar go up. It sounded like a foreign language. My cousin was Edinburgh but I was Glasgow, where rugby was for toffs who liked their violence on the pitch. What's more, they were the people who changed our national anthem into 'Oh Flower of Scotland' because the real one was too hard to sing at the match.

In Ireland, rugby is a more universal affair. The Six Nations tournament is enjoyed by all, myself included. And yet, the throw in today between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield brings me back to a city and a person I left 21 years ago.

Twenty-one years ago, the rugby lads, with their mixed stands and good-natured rivalry, would spill out onto the streets after the match. On international match days they might catch you up and kiss you, then set you down and bring their bawdy exuberance home to roost in the pub, kilts swinging in the wind.

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