TV View: Humiliation the name of the game for Montpellier and hapless England

Gallic shrug of indifference summed up French club’s miserable efforts

The scoreboard at the RDS tells the sorry story for  Montpellier following their crushing defeat to Leinster in the Champions Cup. Photograph: James Crombie/Inho

The scoreboard at the RDS tells the sorry story for Montpellier following their crushing defeat to Leinster in the Champions Cup. Photograph: James Crombie/Inho

 

It’s probably a long shot that such a person exists, but if there is anyone out there whose twin sporting passions in life are the lads who play cricket for England and rugby for Montpellier, well, all you can do is offer them a hug.

It was 89-7 in the end at the RDS, a cricket score that wasn’t all that dissimilar to England’s batting efforts down in Hobart earlier in the day, although Montpellier coach Philippe Saint-André opted for a different sporting-code-analogy, likening his team’s mullering to “a basketball score”.

You’d a sense, though, that Philippe saw it coming when BT Sport’s Jill Douglas told him pre-match that “there are no easy games in this competition,” his splendid Gallic-y shoulder-shrug sort of translating as ‘wait ‘til you see this one’.

But, he insisted, “we have nothing to lose”, resisting adding ‘except our dignity’, something Craig Doyle feared they would indeed mislay when he took a look at their team-sheet, most of their regulars not taking the flight to Dublin.

“They’re certainly not throwing the kitchen sink at this one,” he said, “in fact they left the actual sink in France.”

Add to that the fact that this was a revenge mission for Leinster having been throttled 28-0 by Montpellier in December, a game in which they didn’t turn up. Literally, mind, so the scars wouldn’t have been too deep.

Ryle Nugent got out his calculator and told us that Leinster’s bench, which featured some promising youngsters like Johnny Sexton, James Lowe and Rhys Ruddock, had a combined 278 international caps, roughly 278 more than Montpellier’s starting line-up.

You kind of had a notion of how the game would go, then. Half-time: 40-7. “You feel there could be another six tries in the second half,” said Craig at the break. He was wrong. There were seven.

The only people more disappointed than the Montpellier faithful were the men who lined out for Ebbw Vale in 1998, going on to lose 108-16 to Toulouse.

With 10-ish minutes to go they would surely have been hopeful that their record Champions Cup defeat would be obliterated, but Leinster fell short. As Ryle put it, “it hasn’t been a complete performance from them”.

“There’s room for improvement,” Brian O’Driscoll agreed, finding his inner Dermot Bannon.

“You could argue they left one or two out there,” said Craig.

Montpellier, then, got off lucky.

England? Not so much.

“They are now calling for the priest for the final rites,” David Gower sighed when their ninth wicket fell, at which point he handed over to Dan Norcross and Mark Ramprakash in the commentary box, their shift lasting an entire two balls.

Dan: “Robinson faces his first ball . . . and his last ball.”

Series over.

England had reached 68-0, and then lost 10 wickets for 56 runs in 90-ish minutes, leaving the BT crew struggling to find new words to describe the effort.

David: “Ignominious.” Dan: “Abject.” Mark R: “Dire.” Matt Smith: “Dismal.” Mark Butcher: “Ghastly.” Alastair Cook: “Rock-bottom.” Mark B: “Pathetic.” Matt: “Devastating.” David: “Humiliating.” Their thesaurus must have been worn out.

Dan was even unkind enough to note that Stuart Broad, England’s last man standing, reaching the mighty total of one, had “finished just 99 runs short of a century”. The chuckling you heard was from Richie Benaud in the heavens.

The most heroic performance of the day came from England captain Joe Root who had to deal with the post-humiliation interviews.

Australia old-boy Adam Gilchrist was the MC for the presentations, and was reasonably kind to Joe until he asked him if England would need some “velocity on the ball” when they next came to Oz for the Ashes in four years’ time.

“Ah,” said Joe, “who knows where we’ll be in four year’s time.”

Judging by the reaction to their performances in this series, you fear it’s the Tower of London they’ll be in by then.

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