On the tour from hell it’s important that the Ireland players do well. They may have misinterpreted this rather too well and done the hell bit well.
It is acknowledged the rugby world over that playing the All Blacks is a generally tough assignment. Playing them in their own backyard even tougher and when you play them for all but the first 15 minutes with 14 players, hell just gets hotter.
Add in a 10 minute spell with just 13 players on the pitch and you begin to wonder had the Irish players been practising sado masochism. Certainly if your thing is being whipped then those Irish boys took a hell of a whipping.
I had messed up recording this game which inadvertently proved a godsend as I had only 60 minutes of play to fast forward when I got back from my outdoor activities on Saturday afternoon.
The French too were in victim mode being on the end of a bit of a whipping themselves though they had little in the way of excuse, playing the whole match with the full fifteen but inviting retribution by conceding a whopping 2 tries in the early minutes of the game.
Can’t imagine what the validity of these end of season tours is when the players are clearly tired, looking for a holiday or in some instances a bit of sadism by virtue of a spanking by points. I’m finding it rather hard to work up some enthusiasm for these games, what with the good weather here in BJ’s absence, professional cycling in full swing and barbecue sausages to be burned.
Mind Dan Tuohy and Andrew Trimble may well disagree with me as both took their chances very well indeed. Outside of that there’s not much for me to report, though hopefully Henry will be given his chance on the next suicidal mission against the celebrating Maoris.
A Burger a Day Will not Keep the Irish Management Away
Dan, aside from starring for Ireland over the last two weeks, has also been twittering boldly were others fear to go. He revealed whilst still embedded in Limerick that he was hoping to snaffle a few burgers or was it spare ribs, (can’t remember), whilst the Irish management were looking the other way. Obviously this piece of culinary theft from a self proclaimed barbecuist didn’t do him any harm and indeed it may be argued that barbecues may be the key to Dan’s immense fitness and power.
BJ meanwhile has been twittering away in a rather harmless manner, clearly saving his innermost thoughts for those nearest and dearest to him. I think I did glean a sliver of information from his twitter that the Cape Town, weather was not behaving itself, testimony no doubt to the theory that, if you complain about bad weather it will follow you around. One imagines our glorious June will fade to a distant memory the moment BJ sets boot under a welcoming and leaden Northern Ireland sky!
Once again the grapevine outstrips the official announcement and news reaches us of the imminent signing of Pedigree Wannabee, a back row forward from the Blue Bulls and a player I know well from watching the Currie Cup. Though there is talk substance abuse, one would hope that UR’s masters of war will have assessed this foot soldier’s ability to perform and control himself off the field. I faithfully predict ‘X’ will not be coming to Ulster and that we will get in my opinion a Pedrigree buy instead.
Close Encounters of the Forgettable Kind
I was shopping last Friday afternoon in Forestside’s Sainsbury’s wine store and at the end of the queue with the latest World Cup footie beer offer clutched in my straining arms, I decided irrationally to check the price per litre. I returned to the queue to find my traditional spot blocked by a women with a trolley full of shopping. Waving her past, she quietly demurred and then exclaimed, “how are you?” I was mortified and mystified in equal measure, being unable to identify said women and spent the next 4 minutes in the queue passing small talk and desperately trying to recall who she might be and what was the connection. The clue probably lay in her last comment about Ulster playing in Biarritz in the Heiny next season. If she is one of the five readers of this column, apologies, I could not place you and for probably sounding as evasive as a spy caught photocopying a nuclear warhead design.
Chance encounters are nothing new of course, the difference being when you remember who it is you have bumped into. A few years ago in France, it was Bastille night and prior to the fireworks display in St. Gilles I was browsing in the 10 Franc shop. Suddenly I’d almost bumped into a large bearded figure whom I instantly recognised as a former teammate, big Frankie, synonymous with throwing battered sausages in a cafe in Ballyshannon whilst being entertained by Shannon RFC. Having exchanged a few pleasantries we passed on like ships in the night.
The following year I found myself browsing once again in the now re-named 2 Euro shop in St. Gilles on Bastille night. My mind once again wandered back to last year’s chance meeting with big Frankie. When I looked up from my reverie I was taken aback for there stood the big Frankie! “We can’t go on meeting like this,” I gasped. Frankie was his usual affable self and once again we passed like ships in the night.
For a third year running I found myself in the 2 Euro shop in St. Gilles on Bastille night. It was too much to expect the annual meeting with Frankie, but no, Frankie was desperately avoiding this town.
The Trains Have all Disconnected
The commentator on the Tour De Suisse was lamenting the disentregration of the trains at the front of the peleton as the cyclists hurtled towards the finish line in the 3rd Stage of the race. The train did reform briefly with chief train proponents HT Columbia managing to form a resemblance of a team firing along at the head of the peloton. Sadly it all came a cropper when, with 50metres to the line, HTC’s chief sprinter and British cyclist Mark Cavendish took a fall at about 40mph and managed to bring a whole pack of bike riders down with him. It was a cataclysmic moment, not the least because of the thought of raw flesh on tarmac at speeds, motorists would be proud of. Thankfully Cavendish survived being hit by three following bikes and lives to fight another day. Sadly too I think I will have to wait till the Tour De France to see the re-emergence of the train. The train is when a team of cyclists form at the front of the peleton, usually with about 30km to the finish and proceed to stretch it by riding at a super fast speed, the idea being to bring your team sprinter to the finish line and win the stage.
Father’s Day, (UR version)
Before Pedigree Wannabee stole the headline, UR’s site was advocating A Father’s Day present, presumably for the benefit of some gullible mother or daughter. Anyway they were backing this offer up with a photograph which showed Tom Court, (every mother’s favourite wannabee son) in ragin’ Bull mode. I was so scared by the photo that I didn’t see what was being offered as the Father’s Day giveaway. Perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised when Gillian produces a brand new Ulster hoodie as her Father’s Day gift. Talking of which she is on the cusp of her 21st birthday this Saturday. We will be celebrating with a quiet pizza in a secluded restaurant somewhere on the Lisburn Road.
As BJ Botha might say, “celebrate man, before I bring those long dark clouds back with me from Cape Town!”