I went to the wonderful 74,500 seater Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last Saturday to watch the Irish rugby team take on the 6 Nations champions, Wales. Both sides were going for glory. Before the kick-off I witnessed a fantastic moment of sportsmanship. But before that we had a beautiful rendition of Bread Of Heaven (with a ring side seat).
It was, in fact, more than a moment, it was several minutes. When the new Irish anthem was sung, I heard Welsh people sing it with great gusto. When I looked around me, I saw every man, woman and child (all dressed in red shirts) singing the Irish song along with the Irish. It felt fantastic. And then came the Welsh National Anthem, The Land Of My Fathers. I’ve been in both the new Millennium Stadium and the Old Cardiff Arms Park and heard the Welsh sing their song with great pride many times before. This time, however, it seemed louder and even more passionate – if that’s possible.
The Welsh wanted a big win to secure the 6 Nations Championship (and a Triple Crown by beating England, Scotland and Ireland). The Irish were attempting to win three titles: The Triple Crown , the 6 Nations Championship (having already beaten France & Italy) and an illusive Grand Slam (beating everyone). Illusive because we’ve only done it once, way back in 1948.
Ireland won 17-15 by a last minute drop goal from Ronan O’Gara in what was a fantastic game of rugby. Afterwards I was really taken by the hundreds of Welsh fans that came over and congratulated us. I love the Welsh, their passion, their singing (check this out), their stadium, their city, their rugby and most of all, their sportsmanship.