Well, a win and still a hope, however faint. But it just isn’t good enough. It’s time to start saying it and more important truly believing it. We can win the Heineken Cup. But this belief is simply not held by the players and many fans. I expect some voices to say Leinster’s failings prove they can’t win the ultimate prize, they’ve never even been in a final and keep messing up critical games. To borrow from another province’s experience, Munster didn’t start believing that they could win the cup after they’d already won it. It happened before then.
And Leinster will have to do the same. They have the ammunition if not the mental strength to fire it when it matters most, they have the supporters in number if not perhaps in throughgoing passion yet. Today we welcomed a formidable team, thrice previous winners, flying in the French Top 14 and studded throughout with class. And yet, I cannot take pleasure, nor satisfaction, from a 4-1 point haul (4 points to Leinster for winning, 1 point losing bonus for Toulouse).
It’s not good enough. The home win had to have been the very basest of expectations, even against the aristocrats of French rugby. Giving them anything out of this encounter (that is, a bonus point by virtue of a truly soft try conceded down the blindside) was unforgivable. Not securing a four-try bonus point less disappointing but, given the tempo Leinster started with and the amount of time left when the second try was scored and the number of visits to the opposition’s 22, still a let down. Handling errors, imprecision, impatience and waste plague Leinster’s attack like the Four Horseman of the Underachieving Season.
I will see my team win the European Cup, most probably not this season, but soon. And now I’m off to infect some other supporters and hopefully some players with my belief. Atchoooooo!