Words don’t describe the disappointment from the weekend. I came away from the game full of vitriol for O’Sullivan and Co., but reading the various reports and articles today I realise that I’m not as angry. I think having been there and seen the effort the team put into it, it’s tough not to sympathise and offer up excuses. It didn’t work out for us this time, let’s leave it behind, make a few changes and focus on next years fixtures. What else is there left to do?
And it had started off so well! We arrived in Paris late on Thursday night and spent Friday doing the touristy things and watched the England v. Tonga game in the hotel. Saturday was more of the same and watched the Wales v. Fiji through the window of a bar from their terrace across the Seine from Notre Dame. The Fiji win gave me hope that the impossible was possible and things boded well for our game. Sunday, the tension mounted.
We went for the first pint around lunch time, then had the second while watching the first half of France v. Georgia in a pub off the Champs Elysee. Wary of the time we left before half time and made our way, along with most of Ireland to the metro. We got on the first train to arrive to the roars of “heave” and “touch, pause, engage”! This train was not for the faint hearted, the claustrophobic or the Argentinians!
The atmosphere for the ten or so stations was fantastic. We belted out a few verses of “The Fields of Athenry”, “Ireland’s call”, “Only four tries for us Argentina” and someone even gave “Chattanooga Choo Choo” a go but was quickly shouted down! We emerged into a sea of green composed of leprauchauns, giant inflatable hammers and novelty wigs and hats. The French were even out in support wearing green and brandishing baguettes with “Come on Ireland” printed on the side. How could anything go wrong?
We took our seats, high up the stands behind what was the try line Ireland were defending in the first half. A quick scan of the stadium revealed a majority of Irish supporters and the team got a hearty welcome onto the pitch for the warm up. We belted out Ireland’s call when the time arrived, like our lives depended on it and five minutes into the game I’d convinced myself we were going to do it. What followed, as you probably all saw was nothing close to what this Irish team, on paper, is capable of.
The tries from O’Driscoll and Murphy gave us brief causes for a bit of roaring and shouting but overall our energy was taken up with shouting at the ref, the inability of our lads to take the ball into contact, the indecision of our backline and the
stoic foolish tactic of kicking up field but not chasing down. Eighty minutes later, with a result we expected but didn’t welcome we ran the gauntlet of the Paris underground once more back to the safety of the hotel and 400 grammes of perfectly cooked medium steak. The highlight of the day really.
ps. When I regain the will and motivation I’ll post pictures from the match. But that could take some time.