Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Happy for the Paddies

I had a funny, conflicted feeling on Saturday. Wales (my team) lost by a couple of points in the very last seconds of the deciding Six Nations match. Far from being gutted I felt guiltily pleased the Irish had won and in doing so collected their first Grand Slam for 61 years. If Wales had won (and incidentally collected a Triple Crown) I really couldn't have enjoyed it, knowing that all those poor Paddies had missed out again on this elusive (for them anyway) historical achievement.

I wondered whether this was down to (a) my not being patriotic enough, (b) feelings of Celtic brotherhood, (c) rugby's traditional ethical approach (i.e. winning's not everything), or (d) generally being a bit sentimental and soft hearted?

It was only on Sunday when I compared notes with other Wales supporters that I discovered my guilty pleasure was universal. I also heard that the Irish were pretty much feted in Cardiff on Saturday night. Isn't rugby a nice sport?

Further proof that nationalism is often a secondary consideration is the institution of the British and Irish Lions. Like everyone interested in rugby and capable of forming an opinion I have a Lions selection. Here it is:

1. Gethin Jenkins - as a prop he has got it all
2. Jerry Flannery - looks an evil little fucker, which is a lot of what you want in a hooker
3. Adam Jones - a massive cornerstone for the scrum with fantastically deft touches in the loose
4. Alun Wyn Jones - was outplayed by POC on Saturday but still worth a place
5. Paul O'Connell - despite BOD getting the plaudits, he was the main reason Wales lost: you can't play without the ball
6. Tom Croft - very quick and gets in the way of the opposition (bit worried he may be too light)
7. David Wallace - I can't believe I haven't selected Nugget but I fear he's too light for the Boks
8. Andy Powell - should perform well on the hard grounds in SA
9. Mike Phillips - reaching match-winning peak form
10. James Hook - I know he can't run a game but the only way the Lions are going to win is if they can pull off the unexpected and the other fly-halfs in contention are too predictable
11. Shane Williams - outplayed Habana in the Autumn, don't forget
12. Gavin Henson - the other reason Wales lost on Saturday is that he was moved from inside centre (why didn't Jamie Roberts go to full back?). Hugely underestimated by rugby ignoramuses who get distracted by his hair cut and tan
13. Brian O'Driscoll - back to his best
14. Tommy Bowe - looks unstoppably sharp at times and a big fella to boot
15. Lee Byrne - imperiously good for two seasons now

No Jocks, one Saes, five Paddies, nine Taffs.

I would also tip the following for places: Euan Murray (because everyone says he's really good), Lee Mears (a buzzing livewire), Nick Easter (rarely fails to cross the gain line and has good hands), Martyn Williams (the best classic open side in the world), Ryan Jones (back to his best), Riki Flutey (good stepper but not sure his defence is tip-top), Ugo Monye (very, very quick), Jamie Roberts (big and quick so should bear up against the Boks).

Let's hope the boys are in with a shout. NZ last time was a very depressing experience. However, I have to say I'm pessimistic: those Boks are not only very big, as usual, but have extraordinary pace throughout the team.


Anonymous said...

Not a bad shout on the selection Gary. Shame it can't be made up of 15 English, but we are rubbish! I shall be in RSA for the last 2 tests, the Emerging Springboks game and a safari where we are hoping to lose as many drunken Taff's, Paddy's and Sweaty's as possible to the Lions (the big furry ones with teeth and claws)!! Regards, Dave Spurr

gaw said...

You lucky sod. Have a great time!