Páirc pride shows the way for Irish rugby

The success of Munster’s trip to the Páirc has been celebrated at length already. I will add that as a former player, I was blown away by the event and very jealous of those lining out on the immaculate pitch.

If the IRFU is serious about growing the game, Munster have shown them the blueprint for removing the metaphorical South Dublin barrier that still exists around the Irish team in the minds of many people today.

As I made my way towards Monaghan Road after a bite to eat in town, I was taken by the number of Cork jerseys around the place. Clearly, this was a different crowd to the one that usually visits Thomond or Musgrave Park, and it was wonderful to see.

I sat next to a lifelong member of Killeagh GAA who beamed about what a fantastic occasion it was and how many people he knew from clubs all over East Cork had come to watch it.

Just as this was a win-win for Munster and Cork GAA, any attempt to replicate it with an Irish team would surely be a win-win for the IRFU as well. The Aviva has an atmosphere issue; that much has become clear. Putting a game like this on the road would another layer of responsibility, novelty and anticipation to proceedings that you simply don’t get in Dublin.

It’s time to follow the lead of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and now France, and start spreading the good news around the island.

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