Home Nations

A map of the Home Nations of the United Kingdom
White: England; Yellow: Northern Ireland; Blue: Scotland; and Red: Wales

The home nations, refers collectively to England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland ( countries of the United Kingdom), and in certain sports (e.g. rugby football) contexts, to England, Scotland, Wales and the whole island of Ireland. The term "Home Nations" is used in this second sense partly because Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have a unified association structure in certain sports, such as the Irish Rugby Football Union. Formerly the phrase was applied in general in this same wider sense, such as the period between 1800 and 1922, before the political partition of Ireland, when the whole island was part of the United Kingdom. The term "Home Countries" (not to be confused with the " home counties") is also sometimes used, and is synonymous. [1]

The term has yet a third meaning in the context of British Cycling, where it refers collectively to the seven teams representing the four constituent countries of United Kingdom plus the three Crown Dependencies (the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey) that participate in the Commonwealth Games. [1] The Crown Dependencies are not part of the United Kingdom, but are politically associated with it, and together make up the British Islands. [2]

Association football

In association football, the Home Nations originally referred to the then four national teams of the United Kingdom: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. [3] Today, the term refers to the teams of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – the teams that contested the British Home Championship until 1984 [4] – although references to the Home Nations sometimes include the Republic of Ireland team. [5]

A debate took place among the football associations that govern the sport in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, over whether they would allow their members to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics as a single UK team. The English Football Association (the only association in favour of participation), and the news media used the term Home Nations to describe the parties to the debate. [6] [7] In the event, a team consisting only of English and Welsh players took part (with the Football Association of Wales still opposed, but not placing sanctions on those Welsh players who chose to play). [8]

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