Most of this blog is dedicated to how we as American students find differences in our culture to that of Irish culture. However, this past weekend I found a similarity at the Leinster rugby match. They were playing the Scarlets at the Royal Dublin Society and there were fans everywhere, decked out in blue and yellow. There were little girls running around, barely glancing at the field and little boys trash talking the other team until their mothers overheard and scolded them. Men were carrying two beers to the stands: one for them and one for their wife. It was freezing out, but no one cared because they were too busy cheering on their team. Even though I have never been to a rugby match, I felt right at home.
Sports are a small part of a nation’s culture that most don’t realize create one of the most powerful bonds. People of all ages and professions come together and all social status is thrown out the window. At last weekend’s match, all that mattered was you’re a Leinster fan and you instantly had a new friend. This experience made me realize that this behavior occurs outside of the stadium as well. I have overheard bartenders in pubs talking strategy and predictions before a game and I once had a taxi driver explain the rules of rugby to me. Sports are something that even if you’re not an expert or dedicated fan you can still enjoy.
One aspect that I wasn’t used to was how dangerous the sport is. I can’t believe they tackle and are essentially as brutal as American football, but use basically zero protective equipment. I think this is something that members and fans of the sport take pride in though: the toughness, which goes well with the Irish culture because they typically carry themselves as a tough nation. As my time here comes to an end, it is experiences like these that I know I will never forget. One day I will be back again, but hopefully I will understand the game a little better!