Are we there yet?
My journey to Milton Keynes starts on Saturday night by the dockside when I board the old tramp steamer to Liverpool and on to Milton Keynes by bus. Hopefully there will be a few other Ulster supporters taking this Dickensian mode of transport and myself and Beeman will have company to see us safely to the other side.
Our sojourn will only be half over as we then board a bus to take us to Milton Keynes and the match. I imagine there will be a few shouts of “are we there yet?” Just like old times when we took the kids to France and you were barely off the boat before the little voices in the back seat started chipping in, “are we there yet?”.
With a no alcohol policy on the bus it looks like we’ll have to amuse ourselves by singing, “the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and, round and….”
I’ve an imperative to get there, as match apart, I have 5 tickets for Le Paul and his party from the French wing of the URSC. If your on the boat, please come up and say hello.
I will be wearing my pinstripe blazer, with ‘old fart’ emblazoned across the back and will be sporting a red and white carnation in the lapel with a Kukri logo embedded in it. If that isn’t enough to identify then look for the copy of ‘Stand Up’ under the arm and a pair of knobbly knees peeking out from under my khaki shorts!
A Week in Slow Motion
The build up to Milton Keynes has been one of a slow burn with some members of the UAFC board in danger of setting their keyboards on fire and being prematurely emptied mentally, of all desire, ambition and will to live such is the anticipation engendered by this event.
St. Kenneth of the Midlands has been astride the UAFC messageboard forum like an American tourist in Ireland who unexpectedly finds, life there isn’t snow paque cottages and donkeys.
Ken’s interrogation of the UAFC punters on provincial rugby in Ireland was very much in the American tourist vein, but has held up the Saints fans in good light and I’m looking forward to re-engaging with these decent sports on Sunday.
I might even get to meet Quaint Kenneth and congratulate him on his ambassadorial role on behalf Northampton fans. One set of fans I wish to pointedly avoid are those Scarlets and their ratty coach Scarlet O’Davies.
Amidst the whole low-key media build up, the homilies amongst respective supporters in England and Ireland, coach Davies appeared out of the blue like a tosser at an afternoon garden party. Refereeing of the Scarlets game against Ulster was the subject of his ire.
A game he had pointedly built up on behalf of the Scarlets as a cup final for them. Ulster treated it as a build up to the Heineken QF and duly won whilst playing within themselves.
Fumed Scarlet O’Davies,
There’s not much we can do about that, but we can certainly affect the future and I would not like any team to have to go [through what we went] through last Friday [and] what I feel the unfairness of it.
Coach Davies has belatedly discovered vagaries in the refereeing standards in the Magner’s League. He must be the only one to be surprised because as far back as Mark McCall’s tenure as Ulster coach, we were advocating neutral touch judges and on the wrong side of horrendous officiating including dubious calls from Welsh touch judges.
The Welsh rugby fraternity live in the 1970’s and are unable to grow up and develop any kind of maturity. Whether it be fans, players coaches or ex coaches, they all have this inherent arrogance that no amount of harsh lessons can drum out of them.
It’s a bit rich from a Scarlets coach whose team captain took a quick throw in for his national team against Ireland, in full knowledge it was illegal. The score stood, Ireland lost and the same captain led his team on a lap of honour after wards.
In complete contrast to Scarlet O’Davies, the Irish coach remarked that a sense of perspective was required given the events in Japan and the loss of life there from an earthquake and tsunami.
Whether Davies remarks has an effect on the next referee of an Ulster game at Ravenhill remains to be seen but frankly the Welsh need to get their own house in order before identifying wrongs elsewhere.
The disputed try, ruled out by the TMO, (outside his jurisdiction), as a knock-on, would have, had it stood, been a poor decision against Ulster. This doesn’t seem to have crossed coach Davies mind. Not surprising given the blinkered approach of this individual and his team.
I can do without this kind of sporting brattery and the kind of nonsense perpetrated by Welsh commentators who chortle when a dodgy decision is in their favour and cluck, cluck over numerous video replays when it’s against.
The Scarlets live in a landscape enhanced by their own sense of divine right to win at all costs which is sharply at odds with the real world.
The Dominator Returns Fire!
A signed Scarlets shirt was one of the ballot prizes on offer at the URSC AGM on Wednesday. Amidst shuffling of feet and muttering at the thought of winning this tainted prize, the loser took the shirt and threw himself off the balcony outside the member’s bar at Ravenhill in disgrace at having won rugby’s wooden spoon.
Shane ‘dominatior’ Logan took to the stage, (actually the side of the table) and was in fine form. He reminded the carpists, scorners, Pharisees and unbelievers who had scoffed at his world domination vision a year ago that he was progressing his plan in true Bulldog Drummond fashion.
He cited the here and now against then, Heineken quarter-final targets, Magners League top 4, big name signings and stadium redevelopments as evidence of the continuing quest for rugby nirvana.
He began by outlining his father’s dedication and commitment to rugby which he implied had rubbed off on him. Shane continues to demonstrate a quiet authority and determination to drive UR forward and as such should be given a ‘B+’ end of term mark.
A ‘B+’ wouldn’t begin to equate to success on Sunday at Milton Keynes but for now as this game approaches it is easy to see how we could have everything in our grasp and achieve nothing.
Defeat on Sunday would be respectable against a team who finished top seed in the group stages and who possess a big scrum & line-out and have begun to find their try scoring feet after regressing during the 6 Nations.
It’s a big ask of Ulster, given few teams have won away from home in the history of the Heineken quarter finals. Ulster are that kind of team who can cause an upset.
Nobody rates us, not even some of our own fans.
Lets upset some more folk and win this one.