Lucky me, I got a ticket for Ireland v England in Twickenham last Saturday. A biennial pilgrimage often coinciding with St Patrick’s Day and the end of the Cheltenham horse racing festival, Irish make the trip to south-west London in their droves. Tickets are gold-dust. My ticket was free, gratis and for nothing. Lucky me.
Twickenham is a better rugby venue than Croke Park, tighter to a smaller pitch and hence offering better views, plus they let you booze on the terraces and even give you little lids and trays for your pinties. Lucky me. Ireland started brightly, putting the ball through the hands, Geordan Murphy finding easy yards into the 22 before switching to Rob Kearney bullocking inside against the grain and over the line. A penalty shortly after and we were 10-0 up inside 10 minutes. Lucky me.
But just like James Dean or Evariste Galois before them it was all too much too soon for the men in green. Soft tackling and unimpeded quick ruck ball let the English make yards through us and Danny Cipriani’s precocious distribution skills made yards around us. Soon we had run out of men and the try count was level. A couple of kicks and Ireland trailed by 3 at half time. The second half was a sorry spectacle from a hibernian point of view. Pressure, points and unyielding defence made the last 40 a whitewash for the white shirts. 33-10 was the final margin of hiding.
Coming home on Sunday, the train stopped for no discernible reason and I arrived in the airport as my flight made its last call. My charge to the gate was halted by the system being unable to read my self check-in boarding pass. Sent down to the desk to get a reprint I found there was no desk for my airline anymore, since the flights push back time had passed. I got the privilege of spending 3 more hours and two-hundred more quid in the airport. Lucky me.
Would I do it all again?
Yeah, of course I would 🙂
Also, it’s time for Eddie to move on now. One of the key factors in Wales’ startling different trajectory from the same starting point of World Cup underachievers is the impact of change. Wales have looked fresh, hungry, hopeful, energised. Their new and old players have gelled, coming together, equally novice to their new coaches’ way of doing things.
We ought to thank O’Sullivan for his contribution, for the successes, the many happy memories, unfortunately tinged as they are with the knowledge that it lingered just a little too long, highlighting the failure to achieve the highest honours. No slams, no championships, no more chances for this regime.