Ireland has always been a nation of sport lovers and our history is punctuated with great moments of individual and team brilliance. Enter any household in the country and you're bound to find a GAA jersey or an old soccer medal won by a member of the clan back in the day.
The aforementioned sports have been two of the major passions of Irish people for generations, with soccer particularly coming to the fore during the Jack Charlton era and Italia '90.
Since rugby turned professional in the mid-'90s however, there's been something of a 'new kid on the block' when it comes to capturing the attention of the Irish public. Every year during the Six Nations, pubs are packed as people discuss the inner workings of Johnny Sexton's kicking technique but has rugby now caught up with Ireland's other big sports?
This very debate was sparked on RTÉ's Against The Head last night and it's fair to say a number of people online were left scoffing at the very idea. The panel pointed to an increase in the number of people playing and watching rugby while on the other side of the coin, people pointed out that the number of rugby clubs in the country are still dwarfed by GAA and soccer. Take a look at the clip below and the reactions that follow and let us know what you think.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) March 5, 2018
Rugby is a fantastic sport but until I see rugby balls in every school in the country, you can't call it the people's game. Elitism still exists. https://t.co/PPBGPDB1GF
— Conor Culkin (@ConorCulkin) March 6, 2018
Rugby people can ask the question but they won’t like the answer https://t.co/yglPcmNtID
— Darren Cleary (@RadioCleary) March 6, 2018
"[Rugby is] arguably now the people's sport"/"This is now close enough to Jack's Army"
What a completely deluded panel. https://t.co/c25uGOEF3a
— Ferdia O'Hanrahan (@ferdiaoh) March 6, 2018
Rugby is about as far from the people’s game as could possibly be. An elitist sport for those who go private schools. Of course the Irish public are taking interest in the six nations, as we love our sport, but to call it the people game is as far from the truth as you can get https://t.co/tiR2hibZUQ
— Dara Gray (@daragray96) March 6, 2018
GAA and soccer are the games of our people. And this unwarranted talk of rugby's place in society contributes to a wider analysis that is at times painful to listen to. https://t.co/zCjVXspT14
— Shane Stapleton (@ShaneSaint) March 6, 2018
Christ, Rugby people are for the birds at times. This type of thinking, which prevails in RTE, is why they don't bother showing live GAA from Sept to May. https://t.co/n9tpe4fr3i
— Seán Donnelly (@Toby__Don) March 6, 2018
There is more GAA clubs 260 in Cork, than rugby clubs 209 in the entire country. Rugby is the new people's game? No. https://t.co/q16FJ1gPVg
— Stephen Walsh (@Stephen_Walsh06) March 6, 2018