Pulling on that green jersey leaves commentary teams breathless
BOD’s sad farewell added to the emotional wreckage produced by this close-fought game
The Ireland team celebrate after collecting the Six Nations Championship title at Stade de France, Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
It was kind of our “that’s one small step for man” moment: “Forward pass mate? I’ve got it.”
Only Saturday’s words were way more consequential. You can land on the moon any auld day, winning in Paris is far trickier.
And while the risk of a drop goal or penalty in those closing seconds still hung over us like a heat-seeking missile searching out its target, the referee’s words after his chat with the telly-replay-watching man propelled us well and truly over the moon.
Of course, the four days it took for the decision to be made were quite testing – as Donal Lenihan bellowed at the ref: “How forward was that? Come on man!” And for a grisly moment or two it looked like we were about to be Thierry-ised by the French all over again.
The day had started a month before with a rugby marathon, the shamrock on the RTÉ team’s lapels suffering an extreme case of wilt by the time it came to bid adieu.
Tom McGurk was talking foreign and George Hook was wearing a cravat, so it was no ordinary day, George not optimistic that it would end well because man has walked on the moon way more often than we’ve triumphed in Paris. Conor O’Shea begged to differ, reckoning history was, well, in the past.
George: “Those who ignore history live to repeat it!”
Conor: “And those who live with history will never achieve anything!”
That was George told.
Back on the Beeb, if John Inverdale said once “if France win, England will be champions!” he said it more often than David Moyes put his head in his hands yesterday. But still, such a permutation made you wonder if the French would adopt an après vous approach to 50-50 balls and the like?
So much for that.
Still, Ronan O’Gara, with the Eiffel Tower over his shoulder, lest anyone think he was in Mullingar, was confident, going for “Ireland by one score”, before settling down with his crystal ball as we joined Ryle Nugent and Donal in Paris. Ryle, incidentally, sounded hoarse before the anthems even started, which left you forecasting he’d have to be substituted by the 10th minute.
Nice arty camera work by the French, also, during the anthems, treating us to two close-ups of Brian O’Driscoll’s nostrils, which was nice. And another close-up of his twinkling eyes, which glistened less by the time the French went 6-0 up.
And then, in case you missed it, Ireland scored two tries, prompting Donal to say of the French: “You can just sense the confidence has seeped out of them already!” And then they went up the other end of the pitch and scored a try. #ThanksDonal
“France turned up,” sighed Keith at half-time. “That’s because we looooove ze Ireesh, we want to show you how good we are,” grinned Thomas Castaignède, Keith tempted to deck him.
Meanwhile, Inverdale: “As things stand, England are the champions!” And you’d imagine Keith was tempted to deck him too when he told us that Ireland would try to ensure in the second half that the “trophy will go to Dublin”. Before adding, Keith clenching fist, “and the rest of Ireland”.
Second half. You know yourself.
“We’ve fought rounds with Katie and Carruth, we’ve run laps with Sonia, we’ve kicked balls with McGrath and Houghton and Whelan, this occasion and this day is right up there,” said Ryle.
Day to remember
And there’s no harm in having something prepared for such a day (some of us, of the less hopeful kind, opted for: “We’ve fought rounds with Katie and Carruth, we’ve run laps with Sonia . . . this occasion and this day is nothing like them, banjaxed by the French again;
let’s get trolleyed”, but luckily didn’t need it).
Back on the Beeb, Jill Douglas was chatting with Paul O’Connell, telling us he’d left his teeth in the changing room, so would have to speak through a gum-shield. “Congratulations,” she said. “Tgjdhakf,” he replied.
“ Je suis tres content ,” said Monsieur BOD when he spoke to French telly, le charmer, before leaving us emotionally wrecked by becoming tearful with Clare McNamara. “Thank you for the last 15 years,” she said, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the nation.
“Eighty minutes is a long bloody time,” he’d said. And that’s how long it seemed before we heard: “Forward pass mate? I’ve got it.”
Worth the wait. Over la lune .