College Football Is Back: Navy Takes on Notre Dame in Ireland for Rivalry Seeped in Powerful Tradition

Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland/Image: @NavyAthletics/X

College football returns with today with flair. The United States Naval Academy will play Notre Dame in Ireland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. Upwards of 40,000 Americans have traveled to Dublin for the game which airs on CBS beginning at 2:30 Eastern.

Fans on both sides honor the rivalry game seeped in history which has been held every year since 1927, except for the COVID-19-affected season.

The game has special meaning for both institutions. During World War II, Notre Dame faced crippling financial difficulties. The Navy stepped in and used the university as a training center for its V-12 program, paying enough to keep Notre Dame from shutting its doors.

Andrew McDonough, a staff contributor for Irish Breakdown, wrote an extraordinary piece about the annual tradition.

In 1942, the Navy established the V-7 program, which was also known as the Midshipmen’s School, on the campus of Notre Dame, building a drill hall where the Hesburgh Library now stands and taking over four of the dorms. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had established the V-7 program in 1940 to with the goal of training up to 36,000 reserve naval officers for command at various universities around the country. This program involved a 30-day orientation course followed by 90-day intensive training.

For the V-7 program, the Navy paid Notre Dame $487,711 ($7.73M today) and then a monthly stipend for every enrollee. This financial infusion kept the university afloat during a very difficult time.

Navy’s Midshipmen tour Ireland before rivalry game vs. Notre Dame-Image: @NavyAthletics/X

Bill Wagner writes at The Hartford Courant:

Aviva Stadium will be filled to capacity with all 49,000 tickets being sold by May. Fans from 20 countries have purchased tickets and travel packages with 2,000 coming from the United Kingdom and Europe, according to economic figures released by the Irish government. The remaining 7,000 fans will be Ireland residents.

The Irish government has estimated the 2023 Navy-Notre Dame game will make an estimated 150 million Euro economic impact on the country — nearly $170 million.


“Naval Academy alumni show great support for their alma mater and there is no better example than the legions of people that are crossing the pond for this experience,” Schofield said. “You can feel the excitement among the alumni who are traveling to Ireland in droves. This is a destination event that has really resonated with the alums.”

The alumni association has launched a “We’re More Irish” campaign to fire up fans. They are highlighting the fact Commander John Barry, who is considered the “Father of the American Navy,” hailed from Wexford, Ireland.


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