Sunday 16 March 2014

Okay then, Rugger it!

I'm not quite the least sporty person I know, but I really don't pay much attention to such antics.  I used to share a house with two long-haired botanists and their long-haired cat.  On Wednesday nights I'd get home after an evening shaking out rhythms on a repinique with the samba school of which I was then part.  The lads were then deep into the sofa watching Match of the Wednesday, and I used to sit it out with them making snarky comments about the referee and outrageous English puns on the players names.  All good fun and mostly harmless.  My attitude to sporting fixtures is the same as Dr Johnson's view of the Giant's Causeway "Worth seeing? yes; but not worth going to see".  You wouldn't catch me spending ready money to see a match of aNNy sport, but I'm not going to sweep my cloak about me and Leave The Room if one appears on the television.

Yesterday evening, it was Ireland's final match in the 2014 RBS Six Nations Rugby tournament.  If they could beat France, they would be best overall for the year (huzzah!).  It was also Brian O'Driscoll's last match in a Green Jersey. La Manch' is staying with us to learn English and he's keen to get as much as possible out of his time in Ireland - drinking Guinness, eating bacon&cabbage, saying "Jayzus" a lot, and downloading hours of Irish music.  He announced that he was going down to the pub to watch the Match.  I wasn't sure if the nearest pub - deep in GAA-land - would be showing the match, so I said I'd drive us in to the metropolis of Borris (pop. N=800; pub N=8) and we'd watch it together.  The Beloved had gone and bought him a bright Irish Rugby T-shirt so it would be clear that for the next hour and a half he would be O'Manch.  Accordingly, 10 to 5 found us on stools at the bar in O'Shea's drinking beer.  It was quite civilised, a generous dozen people waiting for the match to start and stools for everyone who wanted one: rugby is a rather a minority sport in Ireland.  Up to the age of about 13, I used to play Rugby myself, but the rules have changed since then and we were about equally confused about why penalties were imposed when the referee blew the whistle.  
The other thing that has changed is HD TV with slow-motion replay, so you can see what happens to someone's head when it is brushed out of the way by a walking mountain like Bastareaud. In real-time you see a successful, not to say courageous, tackle. You can see it here at 18:39. In slow-mo you can see what whip-lash is all about. Sexton was concussed, orthopedic-collared, and stretchered off the field.  He seems to be alright now, and the fact that he scored two tries in this crucial International match probably makes him think his whacking was worth it.  The final score was down to a two-point difference, if France had scored at all in the last few minutes it would have meant a turn over.  Perhaps as important, it would have meant that England would have won the six nations, the prospect of which causes quite normal well-educated Irish people to have kittens.
A victory for Ireland against France in Paris - a great event for the St Patrick's Day weekend.

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