Mary Hannigan’s TV View: Age of RTÉ panel drops by centuries

First Six Nations without McGurk, Hook and Pope – and it works just fine

“It’s a day for boot, bite and bollock,” said Ronan O’Gara on the RTÉ panel. Photograph: Anthony Wallace /AFP/Getty Images

“It’s a day for boot, bite and bollock,” said Ronan O’Gara on the RTÉ panel. Photograph: Anthony Wallace /AFP/Getty Images

 

For youngsters, John F Kennedy is the man who promotes wind energy on the telly, but for the rest of us he’s the fella who foresaw how many would feel come yesterday when there was divil a sign of Tom McGurk, George Hook and Brent Pope – and not only that, actual Six Nations rugby on . . . ITV: “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Maybe, but after all those years of howling about the panel needing a bit of freshening up, when it happened you’d be like: “Aww”.

Ronan O’Gara might have carried the torch for startling jackets that have you fiddling with your horizontal hold, but you just knew there’d be no chance of him likening yesterday’s second half to, say, the Battle of Wissembourg.

Not that he hadn’t moments that would have lit up the Montrose switchboard – “It’s a day for boot, bite and bollock” – but he generally focused on analysing the match.

With Daire O’Brien, Shane Horgan and Conor O’Shea alongside him, the average age of the panel was reduced by about two centuries on last year, proving, as we’d always feared, that this is a young man’s game.

All change too for our neighbours who, if they’d switched on BBC One near match time, would have got Homes Under The Hammer, with properties in Plaistow, Crayford and Wheelock being analysed, and not Ireland’s prospects in their first game since 1999 that didn’t feature Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Connell. Change might be the law of life, but as the young people say, it sucks.

Second Captains

O’Driscoll was on match duty, though, alongside Jonny Wilkinson and Gareth Thomas on ITV – a reasonable three-a-side, that – where Mark Pougatch was the host for the channel’s Six Nations’ debut. The only repeatable thing we can report, really, having monitored the general reaction across the water to ITV’s ascendancy to the Six Nations throne is that “at least it didn’t [beep, beep] include John Inverdale’.”

Sexton

Unkind, of course, although some were generous enough to praise BOD’s contribution, particularly that moment when he addressed the unchanging bolshie passion of Jonathan Sexton for the sport: “If you’re born round, you’re not going to die square.”

Out on the ITV pitch you tried hard not to chuckle at the sight of Martin Bayfield chatting with Maggie Alphonsi (a woman!), Shane Williams and Gordon D’Arcy at the breakfast bar, Bayfield nigh on needing a magnifying glass to spot them, and back up top BOD was dashing any hopes that the loss of Welsh fullback Gareth Anscombe was good news for Ireland because his replacement Liam Williams is a self-described “bomb disposal expert”.

Meanwhile, those in Northern Ireland peeved about ITV having the rights to England, Ireland and Italy’s home games were left chucking their TVs out the window when RTÉ disappeared from their screens come match-time, rights matters depriving them of ROG and the lads. It’s a complicated business.

Back to RTÉ and we had an ad break. And for a very horrible moment you thought it was an RTÉ montage telling us that now the Six Nations was here, homeless people would be happy. But just as you were about to head-butt the wall, you saw that it was Focus Ireland using the words of the eternally God-awful Ireland’s Call to ask us to remember the issue of homelessness.

And then back to the €411 million Aviva stadium for the game, Ireland 13-0 up in the blink of eye and all was grand again.

After that? The Battle of Wissembourg and a 16-16 draw.

Only six days to France. The brief turn-around? “To people who don’t know professional rugby, it’s not dissimilar to being in a car crash,” said Shane, fearing our boys would enter the battle like the walking wounded.

The French lost the First Battle of Wissembourg, though – so the omens are good.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.