The 2015 Six Nations is in full wing and with 3 teams in with a chance of winning the competition, rugby fans will be glued to their television to see who comes out on top in this year’s championship.
In the spirit of things, we rewind back to the 2007 Six Nations when Croke Park opened its doors and hosted Ireland vs. England.
Ireland vs. England at Croke Park was a defining moment on every level. The stadium, situated in the north of Dublin, is much more than Dublin – and one of Europe’s – finest stadium, Croke Park is the HQ of the Gaelic Football Association, and the beating heart of Ireland’s most popular sport, Gaelic Football and Hurling.
So when the Gaelic Football Association agreed to open up Croke Park to what used to be referred as “foreign games” for the first time, it was a momentous occasion for Irish sport. The first game against France, was an enormous occasion, even if the game fell a little flat after a late French try sealed a win for the visitors.
Then there is the history
But it was England, that many had wanted to see for many reasons. After all, Ireland were favourites and had a better head-to-head record against England. Then there is the history. Croke Park was the setting for the notorious massacre of 1920, prior to Irish independence, when British forces fired into the crowd during a Gaelic football match. Players and spectators were killed – 14 in all – and the tragedy became known as “bloody sunday”.
Since the tragic events of that day many opposed the idea of any British team appearing at “Croker” as the stadium is affectionately known and no British appeared in team appeared since. In the lead-up to the game, tensions grew over how “God Save The Queen” would be received.
Many believed it was a mistake to open the home of what is an amateur sport to wealthy professional sport, which are competing for the attention of young irish fans. Others say it’s time to showcase the magnificent stadium to the world.
The English RFU, fully aware of the sensitivities included history lessons into the England team’s preparation for the game. This was no ordinary game.
Roared on by the passionate Irish support and the enormity of the occasion, Ireland demolished England in a pulsating game, coming out on top 43-13.
Many commentators have suggested the game between Ireland and England is a symbol of Ireland’s transformation. What is agreed by everyone though, this match is one of Ireland’s – and the world’s – greatest defining moment.
BY - Kritt Normsaskul
6 March 2015