Gerry Thornley: Merchants of doom wide of mark in 2016
Season turned on Connacht’s daring and unlikely success and will go down in history
Rory Best congratulated by team-mates on his 100th cap after Ireland beat Australia at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
It may not have been a vintage one, but by any yardstick 2016 was a good year for Irish rugby. One only has to rewind 12 months to remember where we were. Doom and gloom prevailed.
The hangover from the injury-riddled defeat to Argentina in the quarter-final of the World Cup had lingered into the provinces and Ireland’s Six Nations campaign. Leinster, particularly, and Munster and Ulster were all feeling the effects, each having been on the receiving end of bonus-point wins by English clubs, who would provide five of the quarter-finalists in an Anglo-French Champions Cup carve-up. Money wasn’t so much talking as screaming.