February 17, 2007

Dreams & Songs To Sing Or Low Lies?

I read a report in today's paper of a talk being given by a postgraduate, Liam O'Callaghan, which sets out to debunk the various myths that have grown up around the Munster rugby team. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the Munster team has emerged as one of the best-loved sporting brands in this part of the world.

Apparently, O'Callaghan plans to reveal how, despite the team's reputation as a unique collective representing a distinctive brand of rural, rugged decency, a significant number of the team attended fee-paying, private schools rather than learned their trade under the rather more public and much less privileged shelter of a hedge-school.

Some Munster fans are apparently up in arms at the perceived slight but I think they may be missing the point. Very few brand stories stand up to the scrutiny of the historian but the Munster myth-makers have shown a particularly deft sleight of hand in weaving some loose facts and fictions into the brand we know today. In contrast, their counterparts at my home team of Leinster have struggled to match their own narrative to the demands of producing a successful brand on and off the pitch.

Perhaps the proof of the Munster myth (if any such proof is needed or possible) is to be found in the belief shown by players and supporters alike as they set about their business of making it real where it matters: through the deeds of this new generation of sporting heroes?

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