Welcome to Zebo's world, full of flicky-backheeldy-uppie-in-the-air thingy things
TV View:There were some most peculiar sounds emanating from our rugby commentary boxes on Saturday afternoon, not dissimilar to those often uttered by romancing orangutans, as any David Attenborough devotee would tell you. Indeed if anyone tuned in at the very moments they occurred on RTÉ and the BBC, they might have been rendered slightly afraid.
Ryle Nugent: “OooOOOOoooOOOooOOOooh!”
Eddie Butler: “HaaaaAAAAaaaa!”
Conor O’Shea: “WhaAAAAAaaaa?!”
Philip Matthews: “AaaaAAAAaaaaah.”
Keith Wood’s fire was burning too, and even by half-time it hadn’t been remotely dampened. “Ooooooooh, look at that, that is just . . . that is just rugby as sex, is it not,” he asked, sort of rhetorically.
In fairness, the Simon Zebo flicky-backheeldy-uppie-in-the-air thingy was a bit marvellous, almost making rugby look as skilful as proper football. Just almost, like. And the RTÉ panel was no less enthused. “Campoesque,” as Shane Horgan put it, although not, as it proved, in reference to Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos, as you might have assumed, but to some Australian bloke called David.
George Hook did, though, find a negative aspect to the moment, which is very unlike him. “There was so much risk involved, the downside of that is that the ball could have gone anywhere,” he suggested, kind of missing the point of very lovely sporting moments that extract viewers from their seats. When they don’t come off they’re forgotten, when they do it’s a lifetime of ‘where were you when . . .’”
Saturday’s highlight? The Cardiff crowd’s reaction when they saw the replay of Zebo doing his thing on the big Millennium Stadium screens, a blend of purring, gasps, gulps and cries of “You’re having a laugh”. Thomond Park just shrugged and said, “Welcome to our Zebo world”.
Aside from that, George was content. “This is the happiest I’ve been at half-time in an Irish international match for as long as I can remember,” he – seriously – swooned, paying tribute to Brian O’Driscoll who, before we set sail in Cardiff, he had suggested was “playing one season too many”.
“To see him in the whole of his health cheered me up immeasurably,” he said, frowning.
His pass for Zebo’s try? “It belongs in the Book of Kells,” said Tom McGurk, who, having declared pre-match that “our inability to scrum” was a bigger crisis in Irish history than the Famine, was remaining firmly hyperbole-resistant.
There followed, though, an animated debate about George’s insistence that the Welsh are leek-eating surrender monkeys who lack “moral fibre”.
Shane reckoned George had mislaid the sweeping-generalisations-about-an-entire-nation-of-rugby-playing-people plot, and suspected there might be a fiery enough welcome for him in the valleys next time he pops over. If, you know, he has enough courageous moral fibre to do so.
“I think there’s a moral problem in that Welsh team, I think they’ve given up,” said George, standing his ground, when Tom nervously asked if there was any prospect of a fightback by our hosts.
Well sure, you know yourself. Half-time: 3-23.
Irish bottoms squeaking uncontrollably. Very, very politely, Shane asked: “What about that second-half performance then, George?”
Moral fibre, you could say.
Just like a tree that’s standing by the waterside, George wasn’t for budging. “I’m like Mary, Paul and Mary . . . I shall not be moved,” he said, disregarding Peter and doubling up on Mary and his leek-eating surrender monkeys charge.
No matter, between flicky-backheeldy-uppie-in-the-air thingies and the BOD man confirming there’s some life yet in those creaking limbs, it was a Saturday when all you could really say was: “OooOOOOoooOOOooh!”