A positive sign of real change - Rugby World Cup board

THIS country is about to vote on defining social legislation and if the amendment on marriage equality is endorsed next week it will be an indication of how quick and profound change can be once it is agreed. Opponents of the amendment warn of some kind of social catastrophe if it is adopted.

Another profound change that once attracted equally fevered opposition but is now considered normal is the idea that the GAA might open some of its grounds to other sports. The legacy of that generosity of spirit, that statement of real republicanism, manifested itself yesterday in an appointment that a decade ago could simply not have been imagined.

Páraic Duffy, director general of the GAA, has been appointed to Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid board. The board will be chaired by Dick Spring, both a former rugby international and a former tánaiste, and our most capped rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll, will take the role of bid ambassador.

Mr Duffy’s appointment is based on the fact that several GAA grounds will be involved if the bid is successful. Nevertheless, earlier generations of GAA diehards would have been unhappy with the participation.

Is it too much to hope that those once opposed to opening GAA grounds might now, in the fullness of time, recognise that the day England played Ireland in Croke Park was one of the greatest days in Irish sport and that this appointment is a continuation of that enriching open-mindedness?


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