Rugby - All Blacks Set To Play In Croke Park
The All Blacks are set to step out onto Croke Park in November 2008 after the GAA approved use of the stadium for select FAI and IRFU fixtures.
The Central Council of the GAA released a statement, saying that they had 'approved an application from the FAI and IRFU play two friendly/ranking games each in Croke Park in 2008.'
New Zealand and Argentina had already arranged to visit Ireland next year and the decision has paved the way for those games to be held in GAA headquarters.
IRFU spokesman Karl Richardson told the Irish Examiner, 'we are happy with the announcement and thankful to the GAA to allow these games to take place at Croke Park.'
Croke Park in Dublin, is the largest sports stadium in Ireland and the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland's biggest sporting organisation. Since 1884 the site has been used primarily by the GAA to host Gaelic Games, most notably the annual finals of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and Senior Hurling Championship. Music concerts by major international acts have also been held in "Croker", as it is often called, and it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2003 Special Olympics. During the refurbishment of Lansdowne Road the stadium is also hosting the Irish national rugby union and soccer teams. Following a redevelopment program started in the 1990s, Croke Park has a capacity of 82,500, making it the fourth largest stadium in the EU and the largest stadium in the 2007 Six Nations Championship (Rugby).
Controversy on playing non-Gaelic Games In Croke Park
There is great debate in Ireland regarding the use of Croke Park for sports other than those of the GAA. As the GAA was founded as a nationalist organisation to maintain and promote indigenous Irish sport, it has felt honour-bound throughout its history to oppose other, rival or "foreign" sports. Up until the early 1970s, rule 27 of the GAA constitution stated that a member of the GAA could be banned from playing its games if found to be also playing soccer, rugby or cricket. That rule was abolished but another rule, 42, still prohibited the use of GAA property for games with interests in conflict with the interests of the GAA. The belief was that rugby and soccer were in competition with football and hurling, and that if the GAA allowed these sports to use their ground it may be harmful to Gaelic games. Therefore rule 42 has been taken to mean the sports of Rugby Union and Association Football as the playing of two games of American Football (one between Notre Dame and Navy, and an American Bowl game between the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers) on the pitch during the 1990s showed.
The All Blacks
The All Blacks are New Zealand's national rugby union team. Rugby union is New Zealand's national sport, with the All Blacks a formidable power in international rugby, achieving a winning record against all nations. The All Blacks compete annually with the Australian rugby team, the Wallabies, and the South African rugby team, the Springboks, in the Tri-Nations Series, in which they also contest the Bledisloe Cup with Australia. The All Blacks have been Tri-Nations champions seven times in the tournament's eleven-year history, and twice completed a Grand Slam (in 1978 and in 2005), and currently hold the Bledisloe Cup. They are the top-ranked team in the world, and the 2006 International Rugby Board (IRB) Team of the Year.
Twelve former All Blacks have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is an organisation which is mostly focussed on promoting Gaelic Games - traditional Irish sports, such as hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball, and rounders. The organisation also promotes Irish music and dance and the Irish language. It is the largest and most popular organisation in Ireland with some 800,000 members out of the island's population of less than six million.