TV View: James Nesbitt gets lost in all the white noise
Actor entertains ringside as Eddie Jones circus continues at Twickenham
Actor James Nesbitt watches the super-bantamweight title unification bout between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg at Manchester Arena. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
If the buzz words in the run-up to the England-Ireland rugby match were all about the “white noise” sprouted by Eddie Jones, we can only leave it to the wonders of science to work out what sort of soundings were going on inside the head of award winning actor James Nesbitt when he was interviewed ringside ahead of the Carl Frampton title bout.
Wearing his loyalties on his chest, as he’s entitled to do, Nesbitt played the character of a rather incoherent boxing fan who’d probably indulged in a wee too much of the pre-fight hospitality. Anyway, Nesbitt – kitted out in his Northern Ireland jersey with a wonderfully suited Sir AP McCoy as a somewhat bemused wingman – didn’t do any harm to anyone, except perhaps himself, and brought some entertainment to the whole shindig.
What Nesbitt actually said would need forensic deciphering from those who listen in on undercover operations, going along the lines of how friends had told him not to wear a football shirt to the fight, something about Italian cars and all leading in to how Carl Frampton had done “a lot for Northern Ireland,” which was the most coherent mumbling of the lot.
Now, if you were to google the term “white noise” you’ll come up with a number of definitions. One of which is all scientific and goes on about it being used in the context of “phylongenetically based statistical methods to refer to a lack of phylogentic patterns in comparative data” which Nesbitt and most of us would probably just nod our heads to in a trancelike state of understanding.
Anyway, in the run-up to the rugby match, there was a lot of talk about the other kind of white noise – of the metaphoric sense – that came from England’s new coach Jones about Johnny Sexton although the suspicion is that there was nothing random about Jones’ advance “whiplash” talk.
At Twickenham, Clare McNamara asked Irish coach Joe Schmidt about Jones’s singling out of Sexton. “It is kind of white noise, it is outside of the environment. We have got our hands full, we have just got to prepare for this match and that’s what dictates what we focus on.”
Back in the RTÉ studio before the game, there was, yes, more talk of the white noise. As Conor O’Shea put it, “white noise, isn’t just about where Eddie Jones talks about Ireland kicking too much . . . they don’t want Ireland to kick, they want Ireland to run at them all day, to come onto this defence which is 14 men lined up leaving Mike Brown isolated at the back. We’ll use our kicking game. It is not negative. If that means stopping them coming up onto us, do that, and do it until they start dropping back. That’s being smart, not going down mug’s gulley which is what Eddie Jones wants us to do.”
Shane Horgan agreed. “The Eddie Jones comments, he doesn’t say anything by accident. The fact that he highlighted the kicking game is really instructive, it means he doesn’t want us kicking in (to them).”
“A kite that grew helicopter wings,” added presenter Daire O’Brien, adding his tuppence worth to the whole white noise sideshow.
But there was no letting go of the Jones comments. Down at pitchside pre-match, commentator Ryle Nugent wondered if it was unsportsmanlike of Jones. Irresponsible even? “I think there’s an element of bad sportsmanship, when he mentioned Johnny Sexton’s parents, it irked a lot of people. Will it have an effect on the result? I’m not so sure. I think he has been very strange, said he has not world class players, his players are not fit enough. He crossed the line on Johnny Sexton,” responded Alan Quinlan.
As it happened, Sexton had what all the studio pundits deemed to be a great game, albeit in defeat. And afterwards McNamara interviewed Jones who talked of how Sexton is a “wonderful player” and the “heartbeat of Ireland”.
“That whole saga hopefully off the radar,” smiled O’Brien of the post-Jones interview before returning to Twickenham for post-game interview with Schmidt . . . . only for the frequencies to jam and nothing but the static of real white noise to come back on the airwaves.