The Top Rugby Anthems of 2023

The whole world is burning in a rugby fever this month, with the most powerful rugby nations gathering in France for the World Cup. Millions of fans around the world are checking out Rugby World Cup odds daily, trying to figure out which of the big guns will get a chance to show their worth in the final.

Rugby is not just about sport – it’s about community. And like every community gathering around a common cause, rugby has its anthems. Sometimes, it’s a national anthem, like in the case of the Springboks or the All Blacks, other times it’s a song that seems to have nothing to do with running with a ball on the pitch. Today, let’s take a look at the latter.

Ireland’s Call (Ireland)

Ireland is a divided country. Its love for rugby is, in turn, a unifying force. Originally, the rugby leagues of the two countries – the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – had different anthems: “God Save the Queen” for Northern Ireland, and “Amhrán na bhFiann” (The Soldier’s Song) for the Republic of Ireland. But this would further divide the two countries, so their unions decided to go with a common song: “Ireland’s Call”.

Penned by Phil Coulter, the song was introduced in 1995. It acknowledges the common heritage and shared identity of Irish people, regardless of their location, and emphasizes the idea of coming together as one united team.

Flower of Scotland (Scotland)

Roy Williamson of The Corries fame wrote this anthem for the Scottish national rugby team. Over the years, it has become an integral part of the team’s pre-match ritual, and an emotional one, too.

The lyrics of the song celebrate a key moment in Scottish history—the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. This battle, led by Scottish king Robert the Bruce, resulted in a significant victory over the English, securing Scotland’s independence. The song poetically recounts the historic event and expresses pride in Scotland’s enduring spirit and determination.

“Flower of Scotland” became a rugby anthem for the Scottish national team because of its powerful and inspirational lyrics. It encapsulates the spirit and history of Scotland and stirs strong emotions in players and fans alike. The song has the ability to unite the team and its supporters in a shared sense of national pride and identity.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (England)

The origin of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is rooted in African-American history. It is believed to have been composed by a slave, Wallace Willis, in the 19th century. The song is a spiritual that reflects the hardships and aspirations of African Americans during the era of slavery. The lyrics are steeped in biblical imagery, with the “chariot” symbolizing a means of escape and freedom.

The connection between “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and English rugby began during an international rugby match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium in London on March 15, 1988. During the match, a group of England fans in the crowd spontaneously started singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to support their team. The song’s association with rugby was then solidified.

The English rugby community embraced the song, and it has since become a cherished part of the rugby culture in England. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is often sung with great enthusiasm by fans during England’s matches, serving as an anthem of support and encouragement for the team.

Which rugby anthem will we hear at the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup? Will it be “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”? Perhaps “God Defend New Zealand”? Or will it be “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”? We’ll find out in just a couple of days!