Teams representing Ireland and Northern Ireland are aiming for tug of war glory.
Teams representing both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are in Sursee, Switzerland, vying for glory at the Tug of War Outdoor World Championships.
The event comprises weight classes for men’s, ladies’, junior, and mixed teams. Both Irish squads will hope to bring home medals across the board.
The 2023 Tug of War World Championship – held in Sursee
Tug of war – a game everyone will remember from school – sees two teams face off in a test of strength and resilience. For the uninitiated, the rules are simple. Each team grabs an end of the rope and pulls against the force of the opposing team in an effort to move the rope a certain distance.
Its origins are uncertain, but it dates back aeons and has been part of the World Games since 1981. It also formed part of the Summer Olympic programme between 1900 and 1920.
The sport’s governing body, the Tug of War International Federation (TWIF), has its headquarters in the Netherlands. Dan McCarthy, a County Cork man, is its incumbent president. It has a membership of 75 countries, including both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
It organises the biennial TWIF Outdoor World Championships, the latest instalment of which takes place this week (31 August-3 September) in Sursee, Switzerland. Representatives of both Ireland and Northern Ireland will be aiming for glory in the picturesque Swiss town.
The Irish team – hoping to build on previous performances
Ireland will be hoping to improve on its bronze medal in the men’s 640 kg category at the 2016 Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
The national squad relies on a mixture of youth and experience. 51-year-old Denis Byrne of Ballinastoe Tug of War Club in County Wicklow will be competing in his third championship.
Byrne shared that being included in the Irish squad was “a great honour”, adding that he “will wear the Irish jersey with great pride”.
Byrne’s son Killian echoed his father’s sentiments as he recalled previously competing for Ireland’s under-23 team in Holten, Netherlands, on the Tug of War Ireland Facebook page.
The Northern Irish team – it’s personal
Also hoping for glory in Sursee is a team representing Northern Ireland. The squad, comprised of pullers from mid-Ulster and the north coast, hope that a “strong team” can “make everyone proud”, according to Noel Hara.
“The pullers and their coaches have been working so hard all year. Blood, sweat, and tears have been put into this,” added Hara, the chairman of the Northern Ireland Tug of War Association. “It’s personal to them. It means a lot”.
The team’s treasurer and puller, Nelson Hanna, told the BBC that the competitors “live and breathe” tug of war, with Hanna owing his passion to his father, Fred, a “former puller for the Aghadowey team”.
We wish both Irish teams the best of luck in Switzerland this week!
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