Wednesday 13 December 2017

Media scrum over the top in SoCoDu

The huge coverage given to the Leinster Schools Rugby Cup never ceases to amaze me. Every year an almost wholly Dublin-based competition between a handful of private fee-paying schools gets the type of build-up which dwarfs any other underage sporting competition in the country. The Hogan and Croke Cups put together don't get anything like the same attention

This is not just the case in the Irish Times, which eloquently reveals its true colours as a local paper for South County Dublin by exhaustive musings on which bunch of privileged young lads will come out on top this year. (Or so I'm told). The other papers also treat the outcomes of matches between these archaic, elitist and over-subsidised institutions as though they are a matter of national importance.

If you are a fan of the competition, I don't mean in any way to insult you. Long may you follow your alma mater. I can understand your fascination with the competition, I just don't understand the media's.

You could, I suppose, suggest that the current healthy state of Irish rugby makes it worthwhile keeping an eye out for the next O'Driscoll or Heaslip. But the competition attracted the same levels of fawning attention back when Irish rugby was something of a national sporting embarrassment.

And it's hardly that the course of the competition itself is that intriguing. Blackrock College (five-figure fee a year for boarders, four figures for day boys) have won 66 of the things and there have been only six different winners since 1978. Which makes the Schools Cup about as competitive as an Irish general election.

In the same period, there have been 19 different winners of the Hogan Cup, (NB to Alickadoos: Secondary schools competition for Gaelic football. Three points for a goal, a point is something like a drop goal. Ball round. Competition won by teams from dreadful plebeian outposts such as Caherciveen, Dungannon, Newry and Navan). And 11 different schools lifted the Croke Cup (Hurling: think hockey played by farmers. Surprisingly difficult)

And yet, year after year, the epic World Cup style previews of a parochial competition continue. And I continue wondering why the Irish Times and its ilk think that Simon the young centre is more important than Seamus the young centre half-forward or indeed Sean the young striker.

Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with those four- and five-figure fees.

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