Rugby fans will have their drinks chilling and snacks at the ready for the two Six Nations games today.
One thing you may notice is that the Irish rugby team sing two different national anthems before the game. The reason for this has a lot to do with Ireland’s troubled past.
The two anthems are Ireland’s Call and Amhrán na bhFiann (Soldier’s Song).
Amhrán na bhFiann is officially the Irish national anthem, and was composed by Peader Kearney and Patrick Heeney around 1909 or 1910 according to records.
There has always been tension regarding the song, with during the Irish War of Independence between 1919 and 1921 it was even dubbed the Sinn Fein anthem.
These tensions became even worse in the late 80s, particular when an IRA roadside bomb damaged a car carrying three of the Irish rugby squad travelling from Belfast to Dublin for training (with player Nigel Carr having to end his rugby career due to injuries).
In response to this, a new song was commissioned for the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.
Phil Coulter penned Ireland’s Call in April of that year as an alternative without the political connotations.
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15. Serge Blanco (France)
The French icon’s international career with France saw the flamboyant fullback perform various outlandish levels of skill while winning Five Nation Grand Slams in 1981 and 1987 as well as four further titles.
Blanco was a threat from everywhere on the field and often took risks that we very rarely see nowadays. In total, he won 93 caps for France during his 11-year international career between 1980 and 1991, which was a record when he retired.
He also scored an imposing 233 points and is a true legend of the sport.
Did you know: Images of Blanco’s on-field heroics can always be viewed ironically alongside images of him strutting along the touchline nursing a cigarette.
Honourable mentions: JPR Williams (Wales), Jason Robinson (England), Percy Montgomery (South Africa)
14. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)
The New Zealander remains the joint all-time top try scorer at the Rugby World Cup along with Bryan Habana, crossing the whitewash on 15 different occasions across the 1995 and 1999 tournaments.
Originally of Tongan descent, it was Lomu who made it glamorous to be a big, bruising winger, even though his stature could have easily seen him fill in at centre or somewhere in the pack.
Much like the Juggernaut of the Marvel Universe, there wasn’t much that could stop Lomu once he’d gotten into a stride.
Did you know: In September 2009, Lomu took part in an amateur bodybuilding contest, finishing second in two categories
Honourable mentions: Bryan Habana (South Africa), Doug Howlett (New Zealand), Shane Williams (Wales)
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
The former Ireland and British and Irish Lions Skipper Brian O’Driscoll was one of the most consistent performers in the world for over a decade.
He hung up his boots in 2014 after accumulating 133 caps for Ireland with a fantastic return of 245 points. In the emerald green, he triumphed in the Six Nations in 2009 (Grand Slam) and 2014 as well as being chosen as Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The Dublin-born is also the highest all-time Irish record try scorer with an incredible 46 scores, and also led his country more times than any other player.