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Stand Up & Fight | A Munster Anthem For Over 20 Years

29th April 2020 By The Editor

Brian O

Brian O'Brien sings 'Stand Up And Fight' with the squad after beating Toulouse away in the 1999/2000 European Cup semi-final. Inpho

Stand Up And Fight has been a Munster Rugby anthem for over 20 years with the song initially brought to the province by former Team Manager Brian O’Brien, a member of Munster Rugby’s Hall of Fame, in 1999.

For his initiation, the Shannon man belted out Stand Up And Fight and it quickly caught on with the squad and management.

The timing of its introduction was perfect as the Munster side were big underdogs at the time and the anthem fitted perfectly with their never-say-die attitude as they took on big-spending sides like Saracens, Stade Francais and Toulouse.

“Until you hear that bell, that final bell, stand up and fight like hell.”

The 1999/2000 campaign saw Munster capture the Interprovincial Championship with six wins from six as Declan Kidney’s side defied the odds to reach their first European Cup final, a defeat to Northampton in Twickenham.

Munster beat Leinster 31-20 at Cork Con’s Temple Hill in the season opener before a 67-17 victory over Connacht in Galway.

A 25-24 win away in Belfast, Munster’s first victory away in Ulster for 19 years, set the scene for O’Brien to perform his first big rendition of his party piece in the Europe Hotel afterwards.

Current Team Manager Niall O’Donovan was Munster’s Assistant Coach at the time and can remember some of the details 21 years on.

“I think Brian sang it for the team first on the bus. Traditionally, anyone who had a new cap or who was on the bus for the first time would have to sing.

“I would have known that song and a lot of Shannon members would have known that song. Frankie O’Flynn and other Shannon fellas would have sang it.

“A lot of the team really liked it and asked him to sing it in the dressing room after a big win. Back in Briano’s time, there were always sing-songs and that was one of the songs that was heard regularly in Shannon.

“Fellas around that era in other clubs would have known it too. More and more supporters started to get to know it from the team singing it and it was something that just grew year after year.”

“That year we went to Saracens and they treated us as a joke,” John Kelly told the Irish Examiner recently. “They played the theme to ‘The Munsters’ TV show as we ran out onto the pitch so we were seen as absolute nobodies.”

The Nobodies beat Saracens by one point home and away, 35-34 at Vicarage Road and 31-30 at Thomond Park.

At the request of the squad, it soon became part of Munster Rugby’s pre-match playlist over the tannoy. The song even ran over ahead of the Miracle Match against Gloucester in 2003 and was still playing for the opening 15 seconds of the clash as Anthony Foley collected the kick-off and the Munster pack drove him upfield.

It then progressed to a live performance before home games with Cara O’Sullivan leading the way with some incredible performances and helping the anthem become a real fan favourite.

A piano was even brought onto the Thomond Park pitch before the memorable win over Sale Sharks in 2006 and Cara was flown to the Millennium Stadium to perform Stand Up And Fight at half-time of the 2006 European Cup final.

There have been many more memorable performances since from, among others, Jean Wallace, Sinead O’Brien, Derek Moloney, Brian Hartnett, The Celtic Tenors, Ryan Morgan, Owen Gilhooly, Sarah Dolan and, most recently, Hilary Phayer.

The supporters, whose anthem previously had been The Fields of Athenry, added Stand Up And Fight to their repertoire in the late 2000s.

21 years on, the squad still sing Stand Up And Fight in the dressing room after a win and it is not only the senior team that have adopted it.

The Munster U18 Girls side clinched the Interprovincial title against Ulster this season and as the players formed a huddle afterwards they continued a fine Munster tradition that now stretches back over 20 years and belted out Stand Up And Fight.

Listen to some memorable renditions below.

Munster Rugby Fan Site Three Red Kings has even incorporated the song into a safe hand-washing technique!

Make sure you wash your hands correctly by singing Stand Up & Fight while you do it #SUAF pic.twitter.com/MRJGDAOLs4

— Three Red Kings (@threeredkings) March 4, 2020

Stand Up And Fight – The Song

Stand up and Fight is from Carmen Jones, the American opera which tells the story of a woman and a boxer. It’s based on Bizet’s original Carmen, set in Seville, which tells of the fatal attraction of a soldier to the seductive gypsy Carmen. Stand Up… is based on the Toreador’s Song in Bizet’s original.


Thanks a lot!

I’m sure glad to be,

To be where I can see,

So many friends of mine.

How’ve I been doin’?

How’ve I been doin’?

If you really want to know the truth, I’m doin’ fine!

Seventeen decisions in a row,

And only five on points;

The rest were all K.O.

Jackson an’ Johnson,

Murphy an’ Bronson,

One by one they come,

And one by one to dreamland they go.

How’s it done?

You ask me, how’s it done?

I got a trainer man who taught me all I know.

Sure feels good to have him in my corner,

Hear his voice a-whisp’rin’ low:

“Big boy, remember, You must remember

Stand up and fight until you hear the bell,

Stand toe to toe, Trade blow for blow,

Keep punchin’ till you make yer punches tell,

Show that crowd what ya know!

Until you hear that bell, That final bell,

Stand up and fight like hell!”

Brian O’Brien

The 1999/2000 season was O’Brien’s only campaign as Munster Team Manager as he departed the province to become Ireland Team Manager in 2000.

Inducted into the Munster Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014, Brian O’Brien brought much more than ‘Stand Up And Fight’ to Munster and Irish Rugby.

A former player, selector, coach, manager, he’s done it all. Having played in Shannon’s first ever Munster Senior Cup Final in 1958-9, he went on to become Shannon’s first ever international player, winning his first cap in 1968 playing in the centre against France at the Stade Colombes.

He won his second cap against England, and his final cap came against Scotland in a match that Ireland won by 14 points to 6. O’Brien spent almost 15 years playing with Shannon’s senior team, and following his retirement from playing, coached Shannon to Munster Senior Cup titles in 1977 and 1978.

Serving on the IRFU Senior Selection Committee, he also became part of the 1983 British and Irish Lion’s selection committee. Manager of the Irish U21 team and the Shannon team that won the four in a row, he went on to become Team Manager of the Munster Senior team before being appointed Manager of the Irish National side.

Brian O'Brien with his vinyl cover of the Carmen Jones soundtrack.

Brian O’Brien with his Carmen Jones vinyl.


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