Rugby is anything but a world game
Niall Ginty's contribution to the letters page [Apr 17] would suggest that he has had little or no exposure to countries outside of those that compete in the Six Nations or Tri Nations rugby competitions.
Apparently, rugby doesn't need to be hyped or marketed due to its mass appeal and is marching inexorably towards world domination! I hate to be the one to have to dispel these notions of grandeur, but rugby is (for example) very much a minority sport in the overwhelming majority of the 50 countries which make up the continent of Europe.
Even in the Tri Nations power bases of Australia and South Africa the participation rates of rugby pale into insignificance alongside those of (in the case of Australia) Australian Rules and (in the case of South Africa) football. Of the Six Nations participants, only Wales could make a realistic case for rugby being their de facto national game. Let's be generous and say that rugby is the primary sport in Wales -- this would make a global total of a whopping two countries (New Zealand being the other) where this is the case.
Irish rugby has made great strides in recent years and has embraced the professional era of the sport admirably. Rugby has undoubtedly increased its appeal here in Ireland and in other countries such as Georgia and Russia. Unfortunately, this isn't enough for some people.
To conclude, I'd like to make a suggestion to Mr Ginty. Take a world trip and bring a rugby ball with you. Ball in hand, approach the average man on the street in the cities that you arrive in. From Berlin to Bombay, Cairo to Caracas and Riga to Rio, there's a better than decent chance that he'll stare at you blankly and ask you what it is.
Voice of clubs has to be listened to
Very interesting to see the results from the National Fixtures Planning Committee report in Thursday's papers. It really does back up the widespread dissatisfaction with the whole area of fixtures. If a survey was done of purely club players the results would be even more alarming.
There is really no way out of this without seriously cutting the inter-county/college fixture schedule. I would certainly agree with the view that club competitions have to get priority when scheduling is being done -- the vast majority of club players really have had enough of discussion on this issue over recent years and many of them are just walking away.
Whatever proposals come out of the deliberations, they are going to be painful for some people, including county/college managers whose viewpoints seem to be the only ones that get coverage in the press.
Last week it was Davy Fitzgerald on extending the hurling league to 12 teams with consequent additional fixtures and Donal O'Grady was also on a similar theme. Are these guys speaking for the good of GAA in general or are they speaking for Waterford/Limerick respectively? Maybe the press should talk to the odd club manager now and then and get their views.
Anyway, there is no room for fudging on this issue. I hope the NFPC come up with some good proposals. I think they will need to get support for any proposals by going directly to clubs as unfortunately there is no real belief or confidence that some delegates/county boards or even Congress etc really represent the views of clubs anymore.
Marvel Messi up there with greats
George Best was the greatest dribbler I ever saw. Pele and Johan Cruyff the greatest team players, and Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona the greatest goalscoring brains.
Moron faction is not in the majority
Good article by Richard Sadlier about the Old Firm rivalry [Apr 24]. The stereotype of the typical Rangers fan is untrue. Stereotypes do exist, but these people are not the majority. The decent people are not given a voice to express their disgust at the morons.
Empty vessels and all that.
Sensible support a matter of opinion
'Unconditional support for Glasgow Celtic was all that was permitted, it made as little sense then as it does now.' (Richard Sadlier, Apr 24). So Irish people following British soccer in the first place makes perfect sense?
Sunday Indo Sport