Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away from being connected. As the Ireland Rugby Team readies itself for their biggest game of the Rugby World Cup 2015 this Sunday, you may not be aware of the deep history/connection that exists between Ireland and Argentina.
Argentina is home to the fifth largest Irish diaspora in the world and this is estimated at between 500, 000 to 1,000,000 people of Irish descent. Most of the emigrants travelled the arduous coffin ship route to Argentina from famine times until the early 1900s to try to eke out a living in Latin America.
Irish dancing, hurling and Irish music thrives in pockets throughout the country. Argentina’s most famous revolutionary is Che Guevara (Lynch) was a descendant of Patrick Lynch from Galway who emigrated to Argentina via Spain in the 1700’s.
This tradition is replayed in the match on Sunday as Marcos Ayerza the 18 stone Leicester prop’s great-great-grandfather was Irish. He can still recall his grandmother singing Irish songs to try to get him to sleep!
The rugby link even goes back to the first ever Argentina international match in 1910 against the touring British & Irish Lions team as it included players such as McCarthy, Talbot, Henry and Donnelly.
Over the years many more players with strong Irish names have lined out for the Pumas: Miguel McCormick (1937), Uriel O’Farrell (1951), Carlos Lennon (1958) and Willie McCormick (1964) to name but a few.
Let us not forget the great Pumas’ who plied their trade with Irish clubs. Felipe Contepomi was a legend with Leinster and Federico Pucciariello was much loved among Munster fans and was a Heineken Cup winner with Munster in 2006.
Despite these age old links, no quarter will be spared by the Irish or Argentinians on Sunday. There is a history of full on rugby between two accomplished sides. Let us hope that the native Irish and not the Irish Argentines come out victorious.
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