Ireland rugby team have only themselves to blame for Six Nations ups and downs . . . and Wayne Barnes
A win in Rome against Italy would give the team something to build on and to celebrate
And so to Italy and the last game of an eccentric championship. One which promised so much after the filip in Cardiff, but then went the way things usually go for Ireland these days. Rapidly downhill.
However a win in Rome would at least give the team something to build on and something to celebrate. Remember that feeling? Johnny Sexton’s return is a major lift for Ireland though, and in his absence it became crystal clear how vital he is to the team’s future.
The scrum, will as as always be a major factor in determining the penalty count and with Wayne Barnes (yes, him) patrolling the subtleties of frontrow skulduggery, with about as much efficiency as Giovanni Trapattoni running a crèche, it should make for a lot of kicks at goal.
On ITV this week, presenter Adrian Chiles said to Roy Keane “one word, who’s going to win the champion’s league?” When Keane responded with “Bayern Munich”, Chiles hesitated, but moved on, realising who he was dealing with and deciding not to remind him about the one word part of the question. You’d imagine Barnes wouldn’t have been so smart and might have ended up eating hospital food that evening.
Thinking about a preference between Wales or England becoming champions is like wondering whether would you rather have hives or bad breath. Neither is to an option you’d exactly relish, but you’d have to say England as the only unbeaten side in the tournament probably deserve it, even if at this stage they should really take ownership of the tag “the luck of the English” because if we ever had any, it appears most definitely to have run out.
While France and Scotland will scrap for the meagre pickings in Paris, the one area of interest will be watching the twin towers of Grant Gilchrist and Yoann Maestri compete in the lineout.
Warren Gatland hovers over the players of the home nations like the man above at the pearly gates, but a win on Saturday might mean a few more Irish accents permeating the Australian air.
The Grand Slam beckons for Ireland’s women. As Trap might say, Forza Irlanda. Though he’d probably be more likely to ask what rugby is first.