Is it time to ditch national anthems?
I can just feel as I get ready to write this that you aren't going to agree with me, but here goes anyway: Isn't it time we got rid of national anthems before internationals?
The last few weeks of rugby have been magnificent.
The English premiership has reached it's climax, the French clubs have been going at it like mad things on obscure satellite channels, and both Glasgow and Edinburgh have done special things in the league and cup respectively.
Ulster, or as should now call them "the Springboks", have played great rugby and they fill one half of a Heineken Cup final - otherwise known as a pint - and take on Leinster who contained 13 Ireland qualified players the last time the sides met.
Now I really enjoyed going to the Edinburgh game and watching the Glasgow game. I liked the fact that the teams turned up and played.
And it was while sitting in the Aviva stadium in Dublin as Ulster prepared to play Edinburgh that I tried to analayse why I was enjoying it so much.
The answer? Partly it's because the games were good. Some of the top club games now are as good, if not better, than internationals. But the main reason: There was no phoney, ritualised, and carefully choreographed war going on before the match.
Oh the Italian anthem is wonderful, as is the French, but analysis of the others is worth while.
The Welsh national anthem, in all its admitted glory, was written just three of my lifetimes ago in the mid 1800's by father and son Evan and James James of Pontypridd.
Our sporting anthem, Flower of Scotland, was written in 1967 by Roy Williamson of the folk group the Corries, Ireland's "Four Proud Provinces' was penned as recently as 1995 by Phil Coulter whose earlier successes included Sandie Shaw's "Puppet on a string" and "Congratulations" for Cliff Richard, while God Save the Queen lays claim to be the oldest coming from the mid 1700s and written by Thomas Augustine Arne.
Those of you who know me know that I love music, and play in a rock band myself, deafening people all all over Scotland in the process.
But the more international matches I go to, the less inclined I am to watch jingoistic behaviour and sing at the same time, tears rolling down my cheeks, to relatively modern tunes.
Maybe it's because I am always stone cold sober at the time.
I suppose it's all wrapped up in the question: What exactly is international rugby? Is it, for instance, a strange substitute for an annual war at pre-defined locations?
Maybe that's why we wear blue, the others wear their colours, and we start with the rituals.
First of all we beat our drums, play our national music - the bagpipes in our case - and then we sing our anthems as loudly as we can at each other, hoping, no doubt, for some fear-inducing sentiment to travel across the pitch.
It's a replacement for an aerial bombardment of some kind. Or flag waving from a distant hill.
Oh and there have been some terrible foul ups in the past.
The French band in Paris playing the wrong sheet of music by mistake, the PA system not working at age group games, and the obligatory opera singer taking it all to a level, or key, that we can never reach.
Each country has some military input too, though not, admittedly, at a level anywhere near that of your average US sporting occasion.
The rugby players in the Six Nations, then, are the stand-in soldiers. Sent out there to kick lumps out of each other but within certain rules, and all for their country.
And, as they listen to the anthems, lined up in front of us, their right hands cross their chests to clutch their national emblem - sewn into the jersey to cover the heart - and some of them break down and cry in the process or make aggressive faces.
Now, I'm not convinced by all this behaviour. Having been out there a few times I remember the stress, but every player asks himself: "How am I supposed to behave, and what does the crowd expect me to do here?"
So those who feel angry faces are required put on angry faces, and the rest of what you see, aside from outright fear and floods of tears, is a bit of an act.
The beauty of the big games I've been to see recently has been in their lack of pre-match ceremony.
At the Aviva for Ulster's game against Edinburgh there were no dignitaries, many of whom haven't a clue about rugby but feel they need to be seen, sent out to shake hands.
No great big military bands playing their old tunes, and no national anthems.
Instead the players came out, warmed up, went back inside while we were entertained to some dancing on the pitch, came back out and got stuck right into each other.
I liked that. I liked the lack of jingoism, of nationalism, of tribal rivalry.
I liked it being a game. A sporting event. It wasn't a substitute for war. There were no national anthems. The modern world is ever more international, why do we bay our national anthems at each other?
But then again, you probably disagree. Do we really need national anthems at rugby internationals?