It was 1973 and the British Isles were in turmoil. Bloody Sunday had ignited an already smouldering troubles in Northern Ireland and in Dublin, enraged crowds burnt down the British Embassy. The situation was tense, frantic diplomacy between London and Dublin was taking place as the political fallout took hold. People on both sides of the Irish sea sat anxious as they thought about the consequences of what was happening in Northern Ireland, and among these people were the ordinary rugby public as what was billed as an exciting Five Nations was about to start. Then the unexpected happened. The WRU and the SRU announced that their players had received intimidating letters, advising against turning up to play at Lansdowne Road against Ireland, advocating dire consequences if they did have the temerity to do so. With regret, the WRU and SRU pulled out of their matches against Ireland. The RFU too announced that their players had received threats too, but insisted that their match would go ahead. Surprise and relief gripped European Rugby as it was confirmed: England would play Ireland at Lansdowne Road. England weren't very good, but it was better than nothing. The English team had nothing but disdain for the absent and Welsh and Scottish teams as they trotted out onto the pitch at Lansdowne that afternoon. Only a world war would stop this international from going ahead. By the time the final whistle blew, the result was an emphatic Irish victory: 18 - 9 to the emerald isle. However, after coming off, England team captain John Pullin said those words that will go down in Rugby folklore: <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE("John Pullin")</div> Nothing more could have healed wounds between the UK and Ireland more than those words. At a time when Ireland's supposed Celtic cousins Wales and Scotland refused to attend matches against Ireland, it took the supposed boogy man, the bad guy, the evil man with the top hat, monocle and moustache who ties virgins to railway tracks to come and give Ireland the respect it deserved on the rugby stage. Fast forward thirty three years and a completely different Bloody Sunday is remembered, one which emphasised what crazy and desperate days people used to live in and illustrated the obvious follies which people had committed. And, in two weeks time, at the very place where one of those follies during that dark Sunday took place, England shall trot out once again to give Ireland the respect it deserves on the rugby stage as a deserved member of the Rugby elite. And I for one, will be wearing a green ribbon on my England shirt to commemorate the efforts of John Pullin and his brave men to heal wounds and build bridges over the divide, that whatever the trauma caused by the misdirection of political and financial greed, xenophobia and religion, that sport can help to change lives and societies for the better. I have always been disappointed in the GAA's insistence that so called barrack games not be played at Croke Park, it had only served to act as a festering wound, a cause for people to point out the differences between societies and something which could only make people think of the past rather than the future. Thus, when, on that monumental day in 2005, the GAA voted to drop the rule and allow diveball and Rugby into Croke Park, I was overjoyed because win or lose, the prospect of one of the biggest sports in the world being played in what is the best stadium in Europe (if not the world) was one which was narrowly better than sex. That is why I look forward to the 24th of February and that is why I will be wearing a green ribbon on my England shirt.