Thursday, November 17, 2005

We Didn't Start the Fire.....

We were hoping to bring you, dear reader, one of our legendary TSA reports from Lansdowne Road this Saturday where Ireland will attempt to regain respectability against the current lesser of the Antipodean rugby powers. Notebook in pocket and with pencil sharpened, the essence of a big rugby day in Dublin 4 was to be distilled for your enthusiastic perusal. The smell of camelskin coats and cashmere scarves, the swigs of whisky from sterling silver hipflasks, the exhortations to Dorce and Rog, all would be documented for posterity.

Unfortunately, all you'll get now is the opinion of a bloke in a pub. You see TSA, along with 7,500 other wretched souls, was the unfortunate possessor of a ticket for the accursed North Terrace, and won't be going to the game now.

It seems slightly cruel to poke fun at Lansdowne Road, rather like kicking a cripple's crutch out, but the old place looked like it was really feeling its age last Saturday. Like an ageing showgirl without her make-up on, the absence of punters on North Terrace served to show up the ground's decrepitude. The solemn atmosphere on Saturday was of course due to the disemboweling the home team was enduring on the field, but in some ways it felt the old ground was begging to be put out of its misery - was the fire an act of self immolation?

Back to the team though. This Saturday would, over the last couple of seasons, have provided Ireland with a fine opportunity to claim a southern hemisphere scalp, our recent rugby haleness would surely have done for an Aussie team crippled by injury and bereft of a front row. But the nature of Ireland's hammering last Saturday, allied to our own dreadful injury list (dreadful more in the quality of player missing than the quantity), appears to have drained all optimism from the national side - the level of which was in decline since our mixed Six Nations showing.

Eddie O'Sullivan bizarrely chose the All Blacks as the game to abandon Ireland's more traditional kicking game in an effort to develop into a more expansive team. This resulted in the lame spectacle of the Irish chucking the pill around like a hot potato until an inevitable error. The contrast with the All Blacks' footballing virtuosity could only be cruel.

O'Sullivan may feel burned by Saturday and could use the example of England - whose prop Andrew Sheridan destroyed the Aussie scrum last Saturday - as reason to return to traditional values. At the moment this could be well-advised. The fragile confidence of the Irish team is surely not correctly positioned for the adoption of adventurous philosophies right now, and a back to basics approach may just bring a sense of relief to proceedings.

**Look out for new cap Andrew Trimble of Ulster on Saturday, one excited rugby sage compared him to Mike Gibson last week, thereby no doubt condemning his career to ruin, however the boy can play should be an exciting alternative until the return of that other no.13....


Post a Comment

<< Home