Belfast Telegraph

A fantastic opportunity to show real character of our people

By Trevor Ringland

The aspirations of the Irish Rugby Football Union to bring the Rugby World Cup to the island of Ireland is a very positive development.

Not only is it one of the world's major sporting events, but it presents a tremendous opportunity to showcase this island.

It is something that brings fantastic economic benefits but it's also another step on the journey of building relationships right across this island, no matter what the constitutional position.

Irish rugby has shown it can maintain and build relationships when others were destroying them. It has shown us a way to promote a future of stability on this island rather than one of conflict.

When I played rugby for Ireland in the Eighties my father was a police officer. Some of my team-mates were also police officers or in the Army. Despite the conflict going on in Northern Ireland at the time, all we ever experienced was friendship.

There was an Irishness that included a Britishness and a sense of Britishness that was wholly comfortable being Irish. I often reflect that it was a pity this sense of friendship was not the dynamic at play across this island rather than one which heaped so much tragedy on so many people.

Bringing the Rugby World Cup to this island, should the bid be successful, is something that will have so many positives.

There is a contribution being made by the GAA, who are prepared to open up their grounds for some of the rugby matches. Sport has been at the forefront of showing how we can bring out the best of this island, whether it be the work of the Irish Football Association showing how sectarianism can be challenged or the GAA in showing how to create an inclusive concept of an Irishness that is proudly Gaelic. The Rugby World Cup would be a fantastic opportunity to show the real character of all our people.

  • Trevor Ringland MBE is a former Ireland international

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