Rugby

"Both wings of the Maze prison cheered my try"

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

06:38 5 Feb 2019


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When Ireland first played at the Rugby World Cup in 1987, Trevor Ringland.

And for many of the Five Nations adventures of the 1980s, the Belfast native was in situ.

Indeed when Ireland won the Triple Crown and Championship in 1985, Ringland scored three tries.

Since then, he has also carved out a career in politics, first with the Ulster Unionist Party and then the NI Conservatives.

That departure from the UUP came after 2010.

In a bid to change attitudes towards the GAA, he asked then-party leader Tom Elliott if he would be willing to attend an All Ireland Football final if an Ulster team got there.

That offer was met with refusal and led Ringland to leave the party and switch to the Conservatives.

Maze Prison

Tonight, he joined Joe Molloy to discuss rugby and the importance of cross-community unity.

"Tom is a good guy and I can understand where he was coming from," he said of Elliott.

"But I just felt it was not a position I could accept at that time. So I challenged him and since he said he felt he couldn't go, then I said I would leave. So I left."

But he also added that since then, the likes of DUP leader Arlene Foster have attended GAA matches.

Ringland also shared an anecdote from his own rugby playing days that showed how sport can lead to unity.

"I sometimes tell the story that I know for a fact that I united the people of Ireland at least twice," he said.

"Once when I scored a try against England. I have it on good authority that both wings of the Maze prison cheered. Both the Loyalists and paramilitary wings.

"And then I know I united the people of Ireland again when I let an English winger score three tries and they all said, 'Get rid of him.'"

He also recalled darker periods from the Troubles. One was the bomb attack which killed a judge and the judge's wife and almost claimed the lives of three of Ringland's team-mates.

You can watch the full interview above via our YouTube channel.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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Five Nations GAA Ireland NI Conservatives Rugby Tom Elliott Trevor Ringland Ulster Ulster Unionist Party

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