Sunday, February 11, 2007

No Croke Park glory - and Ryle Nugent please shut up or make way!

We lost 20-17 but in truth the way France opened this game deserved a victory. Errors in the second half combined with Skrela's skittishness from penalties were not enough to justify feeling cheesed off with their win. There were some refereeing issues too but Eddie O'Sullivan refuses, rightly to blame him.

Instead the finger could be pointed at such issues as the Plan A tactic, stuck to religiously, of long kicks which almost never found touch and instead found the mobile French back line who usually returned with interest. Short kicks to land behind the forwards for Hickie to gallop after should have been Plan B. Some of the passing was dreadful, possibly brought on by fear of the flat, some might say frequently offside, French defence.

Most relieved? Possibly the GAA traditionalists. Bad enough that the game was played at all in their eyes, but if Ireland rang up a 100% record some might have questioned the need for rugby to return to Lansdowne Road at all!

Finally, a rugby match of this kind brings two things - the roars of 81,000 partisans and the ability to hear the referee's interactions with the players via Steve Walsh's mike. All too often all we could hear was Ryle fecking Nugent witter on in his annoying way - a way all too familiar in North American sport where they pay by the word - the use of the pause used to be a tool of British and Irish commentators - now the commentators are just tools - there seems to be no replacing Bill McLaren and company. The verbal-diarrhoea and general guff merchant is placed by Twenty Major in the same category as burglers who beat up their elderly victims - hard but fair.
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