Whilst our soccer team has yet to set the world alight as of late, we can rest assured that Irish rugby is alive and kicking after the brilliant performance by our national rugby team against leading rugby nations Argentina in Saturdays match at the Aviva Stadium.
In the European League our provisional club rugby teams of Leinster, Munster and Ulster have come to dominate the main championships league with Leinster and Munster in the past 7 years having won 5 of the 7 renewals of the Heineken Cup between them. While this year’s cup final was a full Irish affair with Leinster beating emerging Irish rivals Ulster in the final in Twickenham and our own Aviva Stadium being nominated as the host of next year’s final, on the international front it appeared all year as if our national team seemed on the decline after the highs set by the Golden Generation in the past 10 years. However things can suddenly change and the future looks suddenly brighter for the national Irish rugby team if Saturdays match against the mighty Argentine Pumas was anything to go by.
It now appears judging from Saturdays inspired performance at the Aviva Stadium that our national rugby team is back on form with a new set of promising young players led by Craig Gilroy on his debut and Simon Zebo on his third outing, coming up in the ranks to inspire hope of a new generation of players taking the national team on a new era. For prior to this match 2012 had been a fairly below par year by Irish rugby standards. On Saturday unveiling a new squad of young recruits to take over from the now aging “Golden Generation” Ireland sprang a surprise victory over the Pumas (Argentines) in a result (Ireland 46- Argentina 24) that no one even in their wildest dreams could have predicted. The final score was one of Irelands best and widest margins of victory. Only their 62 -11 victory over Russia in last year’s rugby World Cup and the 32 points margin (42-10) over Italy in the six nations earlier in the year were better yet this victory is even more impressive considering Russia and Italy as rugby nations aren’t as strong an opponent as Argentina.
Whether this was a flash in the pan or a showcase of what is the come in the future as the new bunch of smart recruits, come to take over the mantel of expectation remains to be seen. But judging from our throttling of a well-regarded Argentinean side and the dominance of our provisional rugby teams Leinster and Munster added to the emergence of Ulster as another powerful Irish force in club rugby in recent years Irish rugby looks to be on a upsurge. While on your Ireland vacations take in a game. If only our other boys in green in the area of international soccer could take note and follow suit that would be cause for double celebration.