Sunday, March 22, 2015

6 Nations - the best Irish team in a generation!

 The Ireland captains and coaches

The 6 Nations 2015 wrapped up with a fantastic advert for the game. Ireland squeaked in with a back to back 6 Nations title, our first since 1949. We have the best rugby team in a generation. The ladies joined the party too, smashing Scotland 70-3, and claiming their second title in 3 years. So it was a good weekend for rugby, a good weekend for Irish rugby – the only thing it wasn’t good for was your heart!

I endured every minute of the three games on the trot, watching bravely on in spite of an imminent massive coronary, coping with the mood swings, making every tackle, bursting for every line. Spare a thought for Welsh and English hearts too.

Wales Italy was up first, and the Italians decided they wanted to play early on -  you knew Wales were going to come back but you felt confident that they wouldn’t do too much damage. That confidence evaporated as Wales kicked into gear in the second half, and it was raining tries, this was it, Wales had done it, we had too much work to do.

Then Scotland v Ireland, a bit jittery early on, especially when Scotland got their try, but the supreme competency of the Irish team, their excellence of execution, settled my nerves as they steadily built up a formidable lead. There were a few tries left behind, a few errant penalties, but on the whole, we did as much as we could. There were towering performances from O’Mahoney, Heaslip and especially, O’Brien, Healy and O’Connell were immense, Sexton and Murray back on song, tough to single anyone out, but this isn’t a team of superstars, this victory, and the title, was built on hard work.

So going into the final match, my confidence and sprits were up again, France had the best defence in the competition, they’d never ship a 26 point victory. With a try and conversion for England in the first two minutes, I was plunged back into the depths of despair, France hadn’t turned up, it was going to be an English rout! How very French of the French to then decide they did actually want to play, and play really well, and with sumptuous running lines, inch perfect passes, they quickly went into the lead. Although, in heart stopping fashion, the French wing  Nakaitaci waited until literally the last millisecond to ground the ball before he ran out of play. England are a better team than France, and they fought back building up a lead – oh god they’re going to win! – but  the French keep on chipping back with tries of their own – whew! Allez Les Bleus! After 80 minutes of hammering away at each other, with England on the French line pressing for that last try, they gave away a penalty – game over – we’ve won! But France of course still have to run the ball, as a torrent of bad language erupts in every house in Ireland- Kick it out! KICK THE %$£ING THING OUT!

Very hard for Wales and England to take, but we won the title with the best defence, and by taking the points when we could in every game.

A final word for the generosity of the Scots in letting the Irish fans stay in Murrayfield to watch the final match, and to be on hand ofr the presentation of the cup.

Saturday, March 21
Italy 20 - 61 Wales    12:30
Scotland 10 - 40 Ireland    14:30
England 55 - 35 France    17:00

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