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December 17, 2021 1 min read

There are few more passionate than the Irish, which is why Dublin is such a hard place for international teams to get a victory. A whole nation behind a team is hard to stop.

But it wasn't always this way. Rugby union in Ireland was born in the aristocratic clubs of Dublin and Cork in the early 1800s. The game was seen as a pursuit for the upper classes, something to keep them fit and active between polo matches and hunting expeditions.

The first Irish international match took place in 1875 against England. It was a closely fought contest, but Ireland went down 5-0. The popularity of the game gradually grew, however, and by the early 1900s there were thriving club scenes in Belfast, Dublin and Cork.

The real turning point for rugby union in Ireland came with the advent of professionalism. Up until 1995, rugby union had remained an amateur sport. But when the game went professional in 1995 it changed forever. Players were now able to make a living from playing rugby - so many more talented players started coming through.

Within a couple of years rugby union became one of the most popular sports in Ireland, with average attendances at club games trebling. Nowadays all Irish provinces have full-time squads and the national team is ranked number 4th in the world. The future looks bright for Ireland. 

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