TV View: Snowed under with mighty Grand Slam memories
No more than James Ryan, TV3 have never suffered a Six Nations defeat. They too must think it’s all a cinch
Ireland fullback Rob Kearney battles with England’s Anthony Watson during Saturday’s Six Nations match at Twickenham. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
The Homecoming might have been cancelled but not even the weather could dampen the spirits come Sunday morning. Numb them maybe, but not dampen. France, Italy, Wales, Scotland and England all seen off by the Six Nations’ Pests from the West, the Grand Slam signed, sealed and delivered.
“We had Christy Moore in on Monday, he was fantastic,” Joe Schmidt had told TV3’s Sinead Kissane. “He sang Ordinary Man . . . they are ordinary men who are an extraordinary team who delivered exceptional deeds.”
True too. And so happy was Joe he was even going to go mad and take a few days off before doing “a little bit of analysis to give a few individuals a bit of feedback”. The feedback, you’d imagine, will be quite positive, not least for the youngsters who must now be of the view that international rugby is easy peasy. James Ryan, Joe Molloy reminded us, has never lost a professional game of rugby. The two Shanes, Horgan and Jennings, and Matt Williams just shook their heads.
And then Shane H listed out the ages of the squad and concluded that the future was so bright he’d have to dig out his Ray-Bans. Saturday, then, wasn’t so much mission accomplished, more like a stepping stone on the road to world domination.
That class of talk is all a bit previous, of course, a little like the BBC man asking Tadgh Furlong if the Grand Slam had sunk in yet – roughly 90 seconds after the final whistle. But the panel couldn’t help but be hopeful there were more half decent days ahead.
A more than half decent panel it was too. We tend to be resistant to change, especially when it comes to which telly channel covers our sport, but the coverage was much the better for it in the end. New faces, new voices, an occasional freshener-upper never does any harm. And no more than James Ryan, TV3 have never suffered a Six Nations defeat. They too must think it’s all a cinch.
And there wasn’t a single reference at the end to, say, the Battle of Waterloo or Gettysburg, nor lucky and unlucky generals, nor any putting Ireland’s success down to the faults of their opponents. Phew. And they generously doffed their collectives caps to Schmidt who, for a man once dubbed ‘the worst coach/selector in Irish rugby history’, hadn’t done too badly at all.
Joe attempted to keep the panel’s emotions in check on a highly charged day, demanding nothing but forensic, cold-eyed, impartial punditry, and succeeded. Well, apart from that time he asked Matt if there was a knock-on from Kearney in the build-up to the first try. “I don’t care,” Matt replied. All you could do was chuckle.
Fearing the worst
“No Six Nations side has ever come back from 13 points down at half-time, never mind 16,” Joe told us at the break, which you feared was far too much fate-tempting, the nation left holding its breath for longer than was healthy. And there were mini-moments when you’d be half fearing the worst, but the team largely followed Shane H’s half-time advice: “Just keep it going lads and you’ll have yourself a Grand Slam.”
And come the final whistle that is what they had. Hugs, kisses and kiddies all over the pitch, Ivory Coast flags everywhere.
“Sometimes it all just works out,” said Joe come Sunday’s review of the entire campaign, he and his panel looking surprisingly in tact when you’d have thought Christy’s Delirium Tremens might have been the tune of the day.
No palpitations this time waiting for “You. May. Award. The. Try.”
And time to luxuriate in Keith Earls’ trip tackle once again. One for the ages, that.
A special day, the Pests from the west of Europe leaving us snowed under with mighty fine memories.