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The Day England Came: 1973

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    The Day England Came: 1973



    sorry if this has been posted before but it's a good read...


    'I wasn’t too keen on the anthems or lineouts'



    England were genuinely fearful about IRA snipers when they played in Dublin in 1973


    Peter O’Reilly



    It is remembered as John Pullin’s match. Pullin was the doughty West Country farmer who shrugged off the threat of IRA violence to lead England out at Lansdowne Road in February 1973 to a thunderous and sustained ovation. And who brought down the house at the postmatch dinner with his famous line: “We may not be any good, but at least we turn up.”


    As it is normally told, it is a heart-warming story about the fellowship of rugby overcoming the threat of terrorism. But that is not how Pullin remembers it. In his version of events, the England players were “blackmailed” into travelling by the committee-men of the RFU. “Metaphorically speaking, they put a gun to your head,” says Pullin. “They said they’d take a team and that’s it, and if you wanted to lose your place, you dropped out, didn’t you? That was the long and the short of it.”


    Now 67, Pullin remembers the sense of dread as he stood for the national anthems and for lineouts, when he felt most vulnerable to an IRA sniper. He may have turned up, but he wasn’t happy about it.


    Scotland and Wales had caused considerable resentment by not travelling to Dublin the previous year. The conflict in Northern Ireland reached a peak on January 30 that year — Bloody Sunday — when 13 civil rights protesters were shot dead by paratroopers on Londonderry’s Bogside. The repercussions were felt in Dublin, where the British Embassy was burnt down three days later. On February 12 at Twickenham, hundreds of Irish supporters refused to stand for God Save the Queen.


    A strong Irish team won that game 16-12 and had already beaten France in Paris, leaving them needing home wins over Scotland and Wales for their second Grand Slam. But two days after the England game, the Scottish Rugby Union rang Lansdowne Road to say they would not be sending a team. Soon Wales followed suit.


    The Irish players felt robbed. “We would have won the Grand Slam in 1972,” says Fergus Slattery. “We’d beaten Wales and Scotland comprehensively at home in 1970. As far as we were concerned, we’d won the two harder games. I can understand a couple of the Scottish players [who were in the armed forces] being worried and pulling out. But they should have sent a team. It was clear from what the IRA were saying that they had no interest in targeting Scottish or Welsh rugby players.”


    Later that year, France visited for a friendly and, the following season, the All Blacks played Ulster at Ravenhill, with armed RUC men on the terraces. But there was still uncertainty approaching the next Five Nations. The RFU committee is credited with the decision to send a team, in particular that season’s president, Dickie King-swell. However, many of the England players were offended by the way the decision was presented as a fait accompli.


    “We were told we had to attend a meeting the morning after we played Wales in Car-diff,” recalls one England player who, even after 34 years, does not want to be named. “I remember it was in the Angel hotel.


    What we heard just blew us away. Sandy Sanders, the chairman of selectors, stood up and said, ‘We are to take a team to Dublin, whether it is a first-choice team or a third-choice team’. What offended me grossly was that my opinion was never consulted.”


    Pullin travelled because he feared that if he did not he would not play again. “It was blackmail, really. You were out if you didn’t go,” he says. “At the time I needed convincing. There was talk of threats, but I decided I was going fairly early on.” @ His fears were understandable. Sport was not immune to terrorism. The previous year, 11 Israeli athletes and a German polic
    Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

    #2
    If their government handed shot dead innocents they would have had no need to feel vulnerable.

    Comment


      #3


      Originally posted by Irish Princess
      If their government handed shot dead innocents they would have had no need to feel vulnerable.

      Can you please repost this with emphasis on the word handed.
      Anybody who sees a psychiatrist would want their head examined.*&nb sp;Henry Ford

      Comment


        #4

        Originally posted by Irish Princess
        If their government handed shot dead innocents they would have had no need to feel vulnerable.
        your point is?[img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]
        Commemorate Nevin Spence here -
        http://www.mycharity.ie/event/munste..._nevin_spence/

        Comment


          #5


          Originally posted by Irish Princess
          If their government handed shot dead innocents they would have had no need to feel vulnerable.




          There's clearly been quite a lot of inbreeding in that particular royal family.
          New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.

          Comment


            #6


            Bit of irony there the "Irish Princess" complaining about HMG...
            Excellence is hard to keep quite - Sherrie Coale

            Comment


              #7


              Originally posted by Irish Princess
              If their government handed shot dead innocents they would have had no need to feel vulnerable.

              That's true but they came and it was the right thing to do, regardless of being threatened to be dropped or not. If we all gave into terror or threats we may as well go back to the dark ages. Sport should transcend these things, anybody who gives out about Croke Park this weekend and the English playing us there should get a life and get the poison in their veins taken out because it will kill them at the end of the day, carrying the burden of hate hurts the person who hates most at the end of the day. This Saturday is a day that should be a great source of reconciliation for both countries, we should have moved on from this a long time ago. England should be made feel very welcome.


              Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

              Comment


                #8


                Guys,


                The article above is a bit wide of the facts and feelings-even the quote is wrong (look up Van Esbeck's book for the correct version....). No overt threat was made on the team or the players, but of course there was apprehension - there was a lot of violence on both sides of the border & across the Irish Sea. However the IRA knew that the team had the support of everyone on this island and that everyone wanted England to come (after all it was our best squad in a few years). The fact that England came has not been forgotten - the welcome when they came out on the pitch is testament to that.


                Not sure what O'Reilly's aim is with the above article - a peculiar angle on the story(a new one on me), or who his intended audience is.But let's giveEngland another big welcome on Saturday - and then beat them as we did in Willie John's day.

                Comment

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