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The Rugby World Cup at Madra Rua

"Is it like soccer?" a lady with a heavy Southern accent and the kind of short-but-not-so-short-it-doesn't-need-hairspray-to-keep-it-all-in-place hair asks a server. "Kinda sorta?"

The server, an employee of Madra Rua Irish Pub, has just turned the flat screen to a live rugby match between Argentina and Ireland. And it's not just any match mind you; it's a pivotal game in the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. And even though it's 11 in the morning, it's not too early to be drinking. As fate would have it, a good drink is about the only comfort fans of Ireland will be getting this morning.

The five others who are dining with the women — including a man in a camouflage trucker cap — take notice of the rugby match and then get back to the business at hand: talking about chihuahuas. More specifically, the uteruses of chihuahuas. Me, I'm on my second Bloody Mary.

Unlike the table of six, the five folks seated at the two tables at the back of room — the ones with the best view of the TV — are focused on the match with all the intensity of a shadenfraud fiend watching Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator."

Seated among rugby fans is pub owner Stephen O'Connor, a Dublin native who came to Charleston nine years ago. Although he left his native country for construction work, he ended up getting into the bar business, opening Madra Rua in Park Circle some four and a half years ago.

A rugby and soccer aficionado himself, O'Connor is just trying to give fans of Euro sports a place to watch their favorite teams.

In addition to the Rugby World Cup games, which take place over the next few weeks, Madra Rua is currently showing English Premier League soccer matches. While the soccer matches are free for all to watch, catching a rugby match will cost you $10, a small price for a European expat living in the Lowcountry to pay to momentarily feel like they're back home again.

Unfortunately, that's where the guys in green are headed.

Chris Haire

For more information about the Rugby World Cup at Madra Rua, call (843) 554-2522 or visit


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