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Top 20 rugby anthems countdown: 15-11

Brendan Gallagher ranks rugby’s great songs and anthems held dearly to many hearts of fans, players, and local and national communities.

15. New Zealand ‘Ka Mate’ haka

Not a huge fan of the overhyped haka which the All Blacks have morphed into a Hollywood production but the ‘flash’ hakas from fans on match day in New Zealand or at a rugby occasion are good fun and feel more authentic. The traditional ka mate, ka mate is still the best.

Ka mate, ka mate! ka ora! ka ora!

Ka mate! ka mate! ka ora! ka ora!

Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru

Nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā

Ā, upane! ka upane!

Ā, upane, ka upane, whiti te ra!

14. National anthem of Argentina

Another utilitarian title, the Pumas anthem makes a very slow start and you are just about to nod off when, with a thunderclap of noise, it roars into action and the second half is basically one prolonged impassioned patriotic roar from the men in blue and white. Always awash with tears and the beating of chests and by the final stanza you are shouting along with them. 

13. ‘The Song of the Western Men’ better known as ‘Trelawny’

Cornwall is a singing county and there are four or five songs associated with their rugby team.

But the hardy annual is Trelawny, which was the soundtrack to all their great country championship campaigns.

It’s essentially a homage to Sir Jonathan Trelawny, the Cornish bishop of Bristol who was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1688 by King James II though some scholars now think it refers to his grandfather Sir John Trelawny, a Cornish royalist also imprisoned by parliament.

Lots of verses but best known for its chorus: And shall Trelawny live? And shall Trelawny die? Here’s twenty thousand Cornish men Will know the reason why!

12. Stand up and Fight

Fantastic foot stomping operatic number from Georges Bizet and originally sung by Carmen Jones that lodged itself in the mind of a young Brian O’Brien in the late 50s. Fast forward 40 years and O’Brien was the Munster manager and was looking for a song to belt out over the PA at Thomond to add to the already heightened sense of occasion there. This was his choice and in no time it came a popular an important part of the match day experience.

11. Ireland’s Call

A written to order anthem that immediately hit the mark. The IRU commissioned an alternative Irish anthem to be played at away matches, starting at RWC1995 and turned to Phil Coulter which was an inspired choice. Along with Bill Martin he already had a track record of instantly catchy tunes such as successful British Eurovision entries ‘Puppet on a String’ and ‘Congratulations’.

Also responsible for ‘Shang a Lang’ and ‘Saturday Night’ for the Bay City Rollers.

First heard in public at the final Ireland Press conference before their RWC1995 opener when Ireland manager Noel “Noisy” Murphy handed out song sheets to the assembled Press, popped a cassette into the ghetto blaster and commanded that we sing along. It sounded much better the following evening against New Zealand. One of those songs the opposition fans find themselves singing as well.

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