(Monday, August 21) You're off key over claim on anthem, says rugby body

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The governing body of rugby in Ireland has dismissed claims that not playing the national anthem at next year's Ireland v Italy international in Belfast is political.

Confirming that Phil Coulter's Ireland's Call will be played pre-match at Ravenhill and not God Save The Queen, an IRFU Ulster branch spokeswoman said that it was a matter of policy.

"When Ireland play in Dublin, the Irish national anthem plus Ireland's Call are played but, when the team play outside Ireland, wherever that might be, only Ireland's Call is played," she said

"So this is not out of the norm."

She was responding to a report which claimed that the non-playing of the British anthem was a condition of the game being played in Belfast.

"That is not the case," she said yesterday.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr is calling on the IRFU to look again at its policy.

"I would have thought it to be fair and appropriate that the national anthem of the United Kingdom would be played at Ravenhill given that the Irish team is made up of players from all the four provinces.

"Given one of those is within the UK, I think the IRFU should have considered playing the anthem in respect of that part of Ireland – Ulster."

A huge turnout of rugby fans is expected at the game, one of two friendlies being played by the Irish squad as a warm up to the World Cup in 2007.

It will also be the first time an international has been played at Ravenhill since the 1950s.

The Belfast ground was chosen for the visit of Italy as both Landsdowne Road and Thomond Park are due to be redeveloped around the time of the fixture.