Former Irish rugby international Alan Quinlan joined OTB AM as usual on Monday morning to talk all things rugby, and it seemed he had something to get off his chest - namely the anti-rugby sentiment of some Irish sports fans.
Ireland take on Wales in the opening game of the one-off Autumn Nations Cup tournament this Friday, with Welsh preparations hit by the dismissal of their defence coach Byron Hayward.
Hayward was let go after their run of five defeats in a row, where they won just one game in the 2020 Six Nations, which was a first campaign in charge under new head coach Wayne Pivac.
And with Andy Farrell also coming to the end of a mixed first campaign in charge, Quinlan noted the difference in criticism being directed to both coaches, believing it stems from the respective public perceptions rugby has in both Ireland and Wales.
"It astonishes me how we can win a grand slam in 2018, we than get lambasted in 2019 - obviously the World Cup is part of it. The reaction here is massive. Wales win a Grand Slam in 2019 and won one game this year, and the reaction is not the same," he said.
"Rugby is the number one sport in Wales and maybe there is a bit more patience there, but there seems to be a lot of angst against the Irish rugby term. But this private schools, D4 scenario is always brought up. I'm the exact opposite. I came through a Christian Brothers school, a GAA school, a non traditional rugby area.
"It's probably an Irish thing because we've seen with the football team as well, people calling for Stephen Kenny's head after four or five games, where there's no dose of reality at times. That's a frustration, but it's something you just have to live with. I think the reaction is sometimes over the top," he added.
A lot of the begrudgery - Quinny believes - comes from GAA fans who simply just don't like other sports.
"There's no patience here around the Irish rugby team and I think that probably stems from GAA circles. Most of the negative comments you get about the Irish team comes from GAA people on social media, and I have friends who are like that.
"You have anti-rugby people here who just don't like the game, they don't liken the coverage it gets. As I said, I have friends in GAA circles who over the last number of years would say to me, 'Oh it's all rugby again on the back pages, too much coverage of rugby, what about the GAA fixtures...'
"There's an anti-rugby brigade in Ireland, and it stems from the perception that all rugby in Ireland is D4 and private schools. You go down to Tipperary and go to the clubs around where I live; Clanwilliam, Kilfeacle, Cashel, Thurles, Galbally, the passion and desire for rugby in those clubs is phenomenal and they're not rugby-playing schools.
"When Ireland excel and do pretty well, the knockers just come out. It is what it is, and that's the way some people like to view other sports that they're not into themselves."
Ultimately, Quinny believes that the only way to silence the nay-sayers is to do it on the pitch, although he joked that the bar is set a lot higher than it was when he was growing up.
Until Ireland get to a World Cup semi final or go further, people will have that ammunition to throw at the Irish rugby team. For four provinces, it's a as mall pool of players, the glass is probably more half-full, given what I grew up watching in the 90s and late 80s!
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