Scholarly & Creative

February 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Brown Examines How Rugby United Ireland

Ireland-IN06-wide-horizontal“Come the Day and Come the Hour.” Imagine a line of men—sporting green jerseys and bruises from their last match—belting out Ireland’s Call as they prepare to take on England’s national rugby team. Imagine that, as the song goes, these men come from all four provinces of Ireland—both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Dr. Christopher M. Brown, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, has studied how rugby became a unifying force in a region filled with conflict. He participated in a panel on “New Approaches in Peace Building: Examples from Northern Ireland” on Friday, Feb. 19, at the International Studies Association conference and presented a paper on “‘Come the Day and Come the Hour’: Re‐constructing Nationalism in Divided Societies or How Rugby United Ireland.”

“How has the Irish Rugby Union constructed a new form of Irish nationalism that does not include the primordial definitions of the societies that it has come to represent?” Brown asks. “Prior to 1879, there existed two Irish Rugby Football Unions, one in Dublin and another in Belfast. In 1879, these two unions chose to unify under the aegis that equal representation be given to each of the four major provinces in Ireland, and that this new union would govern the one and only Irish national rugby football club. In stark contrast to the destructive nationalism that has characterized much of modern Irish history, the IRU has succeeded in building an identity of Irish nationalism that is self-defined and inclusive,” Brown says. His research explains how sports can be used to build constructive identifies among different groups in divided societies. His paper demonstrates the influence that sports can have in breaking down barriers between groups, offering avenues of conflict resolution, and constructing new relationships and identities for reconciliation.In his paper, Brown offers a heuristic case study on the successful creation of new forms of self-identification through sports that have led to social cohesion among members of opposing groups in a divided society.

Hear Ireland’s 2007 national rugby team sing Ireland’s Call as they prepare to play England.

Ireland’s Call

by Phil Coulter

Come the day and come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our Country’s call
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

From the mighty Glens of Antrim
From the rugged hills of Galway
From the walls of Limerick
And Dublin Bay
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

Hearts of steel
And heads unbowing
Vowing never to be broken
We will fight, until
We can fight no more
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

(Photo credit: Christophe Ena / AP)

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