It has been my sour and dismaying experience that, as an international business traveller, this is the way the rest of the world views such an archaic event as a British Lions tour supported by a sporting body from another country that, in reality, should have no national association with the British Lion. We are happy, it seems, to throw away our national identity and join the great commonwealth circus on the trek to South Africa under another nation’s symbol for some sporting reason that is totally confusing to any EU, American or Middle East business person whom I encounter while abroad.
Why does this matter — many of us in business have built strong personal relationships abroad where our Irish nationality is vital to maintaining such links.
When we embrace any event that requires us to take on another nation’s identity we lose respect in the eyes of the viewing world. In my opinion, if we cannot maintain our own identity as nation, then we do not respect ourselves. If we lose the respect of other nations, then it gets harder to achieve international business.
Plain and simple, we are viewed as British, and the Lions tour, plus our nation’s global embrace of it, just substantiates the view.
Not one of my many international business acquaintances understands our national desire to don the red jersey under the symbol of the British Lion. They ask me why are the French or the Italians not involved in these tours? What is the rationale? I cannot explain this act of apparent low self-esteem,
Finally as a test, Google “British Lions” and look at the results — the tour packages and the South African papers predominantly regard it as a British Lions Tour.
Ireland, it seems, rejoins the British Commonwealth for a while.