Tim Pat Coogan, one of Ireland's premier commentators, has called on Irish rugby authorities to end "Ireland's Call," the anthem sung at away games for Irish rugby internationals, instead of the "Soldiers Song" because of the presence of Northern Ireland players on the all-Ireland team.
Coogan stated that "half of the players did not appear to be singing at all and the rest mouthed the somber 'Ireland's Call' without any apparent conviction or intensity. Do they even know the words, I wondered? Do they care? To paraphrase the song, shoulder to shoulder they may have been, but they quite literally were not answering Ireland's Call.”
By contrast Coogan , writing in the Sunday Independent, stated "I watched all three of the Six Nation matches last weekend and like everyone else who saw the games was struck by the fervor and intensity with which five of the six teams involved gave vent to the passion, pride and intensity of feeling for their nation in the way they sang their national anthems.
“The sixth team, Ireland, was the exception.
"But by God there was no question as to whether the French team knew the words of 'La Marseillaise' and were answering to its spirit. Hands on hearts they belted out their national anthem with a fervor and commitment that was echoed by every French supporter at the ground and no doubt by millions more watching on TV."
Coogan also cited Trevor Brennan, the former Irish international who has now called for 'Soldiers Song' to be restored. Brennan went on Irish radio last week and called for the anthem to be restored, saying it has deep roots in Irish society.
Coogan agrees: "If we have progressed to a point in our island relationships where 'God Save the Queen' can be sung at Croke Park and (rightly) listened to with respect, then 'Amhran na bhFiann' ('Soldiers Song') should be sung at Twickenham. The IRFU are opening a new stadium at Lansdowne Road shortly, which I most sincerely hope will be the start of a great new and successful era for the game and for the country. It should also be taken as an equally great opportunity for the restoration of the Irish national anthem and the dropping of Ireland's Bawl."
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