Gatland’s Dricectomy matters – the Lions winning doesn’t
Five minutes after it’s over, it’s gone. The aftertaste of your breakfast has a longer shelf-life
So when it was confirmed that Sam Warburton was going to miss the final Test through injury, the reaction of most Irish people was to see it in terms of what this would mean for O’Driscoll. That Warburton had been immense in the second Test and could be badly missed in the third was a secondary concern.
Instead, there was a sense of the planets aligning. O’Driscoll would be captain for his last Lions Test, with the chance to clear at a stroke the cosmic debt built up by the three series that had gone before. When Gatland decided he wasn’t even going to be allowed to tog out, most of the outrage was centred around the slight visited upon a great man.
Hence the plethora of conspiracy theories. That Gatland was exacting revenge for O’Driscoll’s loose words at the end of the second Test regarding the Lions’ style of play. That Gatland was keeping his Welsh players happy ahead of his return to the national job for next year’s Six Nations. Best of all, that he had waited in the long grass all these years to get back at the IRFU for the way his Ireland career had ended.
But sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. By far the most likely scenario is that Gatland didn’t fancy O’Driscoll for the way he wanted his team playing in the final Test. Occam’s razor, and all that.
What’s interesting, though, is the depth of reaction. People here clearly care more about what happens to Brian O’Driscoll than about what happens to the Lions. You only had to listen to BBC Radio FiveLive for half an hour on Wednesday morning to realise that in Scotland, they cared more about the fact that they can’t get a player on the pitch than they do about either O’Driscoll’s travails or the fate of the team. And all of this sprouts directly from the second force at play – the general public’s indifference to the overall result.
This is very simple. People like the idea of the Lions. They like watching the games. They like jawing over who should and shouldn’t be in the team. When they’re picking a side to get behind, they obviously pick the one most familiar to them. But do they care who wins? Nope. Not even a little bit.
To argue that they do is to ignore what supporting a team entails. Any team, in any sport. It doesn’t matter whether you were in the Maracana last Sunday night or are going to Nowlan Park tomorrow evening, the outcome should affect your mood. For good or for ill, even if it’s just the fatalistic shrug of lived-down-to expectations. The result has to matter.