On a blustery Monday morning in Galway City we wake up to the real world, the post weekend blues, amplified by the realisation that on Saturday gone by, our neighbors and good friends Scotland, did beat us in our opening game of the Rugby 6 Nations. (Yes, I know, I’m struggling to understand it myself) In a David verses Goliath contest Scotland were very much the deserving victors.
But in an attempt on my part to brush of the disappointment of Saturday, today we look past the game itself and concentrate on the unique subculture within Irish Bars, The 6 Nations Pub goer. As the Bars for the next number of weekends fill with “Fans” we take a look at who will find in the pub on game days.
The Real Fan
Possibly one of the most important groups within any bar on game day is the true fan, the rugby fan that wears his/her colours on their sleeves. Supporting local clubs on a weekly basis and their professional team of choice throughout the teams battles across Europe, their die-hard love of the sport turns from a regional love to a national passion when the boys wear their green jerseys. With a deep knowledge of the team, the players, the referee, the physio, the water-boy etc. This group wishes they were at the game but for whatever personal reason make do for soaking up the atmosphere in the local. The only thing that surpasses their knowledge of the game is their passion for the sport and their contempt for many others on this list.
This is normally majority of the crowd in the pub during the game. Saturday or Sunday afternoon, what better reason to meet with your buddies and have a few pints than Ireland lining out on the Rugby pitch. A quick catch up, and down to business, Pints & Rugby. This group is a bit of a mix bag (as we call them) some rugby fan, some drinking fans, but really at heart it’s just an excuse for a lads afternoon out.
Often within the previous group of lads you will find the dreaded ex-player, often now overweight and overly fond of a pint these guys wax lyrical of days gone by, their schoolboy days when they scored the winning try in the last minute of the league game. Or maybe about the time they lined out against Johnny Sexton in a club game 15 years ago and “rang rings around him”, they would have been called up to the Irish under 20's team only and injury ended their career. Ah sure fair play to them, it must be tough to watch from a distance.
The Dolly Bird
Often called the “Rugby Groupie”, these are the girls that arrive into the bar on game day, high-heels on, their green jersey painted on to show off the “assets” and the hunt for a rugby man begins. Often heard screaming randomly “Cum’on Ireland” at the screen in between Facebook check-ins and Instagram duck faces. With disappointed faces, they realise the bar doesn’t do cocktails they settle for their glass of “Pinot” while frustratingly search for a seat. It’ll be a long night for them, normally drunk by the 2nd half.
The illusive non-drinker in an Irish Bar on Rugby day, crazy but it happens. Surprisingly there is a hefty percentage of non-drinkers in Ireland (you didn’t expect that but its true). Now most of those non-drinkers that go to the pub to watch the rugby are a special kind of bred. In this case we speak of the hospitality industry worker, The bar man or bouncer that won’t start work until later than day. They pop by, grabbing a coke or coffee, joining their lucky friends that are sitting with pints in front of them. The hardest part of their day is leaving the group to go home and get ready for work. Please spare a thought for these poor souls tonight at midnight when you’re ordering 12 Jagerbombs.
These are that group that have no interest in what’s happening, doesn't matter what sport, what occasion, even what day. These are the group that just love a busy bar, the excuse to start drinking early. With a game starting at maybe 2pm they have a long day to get as drunk as possible. Often they start off in great form, getting into the atmosphere and supporting the team but as the drinks flow this descends into madness. Before too long a trip to the nearest fast-food spot is needed to attempt the sober up as the venues that serve them get smaller and smaller in number. For this group, making it to the Nightclub is a badge of honor. The next day is a haze of regrets, fear and sickness.
Ireland’s Call Singers
A unique group to Ireland are the Ireland’s Call singers, this group that will proudly sing at the top of their voices the Irish Rugby song of Ireland's Call as the Team stands Shoulder to Shoulder (See what I did there?). This lovely song can be heard from every bar before the game, a great song, full with passion and drive. But as they finish Ireland's Call, asking them to sing “Amhrán na bhFiann” The Irish National Anthem is met with mumbling of the tune, maybe a line or two as it fades into the background and quickly brushed over. Now without getting into the politics of the song (For those that don’t know Irish Rugby is the Whole Island, Republic & Northern) we mention this as we are in Galway City and love our Anthem.
The most important group in any list about any bar anywhere in the world. It is the regular punters, the men and women that the staff know by name, are friends with and that drive the bar during the quieter times of the year. The regulars grumble, moan and complain about how busy it is, will argue and fight for their regular seat and want to watch the game in peace (and rightfully so) As I heard one regular say to a mouthy young rugby fan “will you be here and Tuesday?”, Regulars are the royalty of any bar and should be respected by outsiders as such. But really, most of the time, as long as they get their regular seat, can order their pint and see the tv, they are the nicest group in the bar. Much love for the Regulars.