Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Ireland's Call

You used to know where you were, as an Ireland supporter. The boys in (scruffy) green would run out onto the field, line up for the anthem and then run around like mad things until they had a chance to play their one set piece that they'd practiced this week, and then they'd score. This running around like mad things would continue until the final quarter, when they'd run out of steam and defeat would again be snatched from the jaws of victory.

Of course, against crap teams, they could win, but against half-decent teams, they could at least give them a run for their money and make sure the supporters got a good day out. There was no need for the Haka (or whatever they call it), since most of the rest of the world thought we were all terrorists over here, or a bit mad, or both, and were a bit scared of them until they got them tired out. They had Jonah Lomu, we had 'The Lads'.

But now it's all changed. The kits are sparkly and new, they have something that could maybe pass for tactics, and there's a professional sheen and, most worryingly of all, an 'expectation'. But the Ireland team have always been good underdogs, and I think it's laregely that expectation that has finished them.

Of course there are two other key factors. Everyone has it in for O'Gara these days, but surely the main problem is that no matter what he wears or does, he always looks like a bank manager who's reluctantly agreed to take part in the company's annual Rugby 7s charity match. And O'Driscoll took the wrong road a few years back when he got those highlights. He stopped being an Ireland rugby player and started being David Beckham. Except he wasn't.

Maybe we need to go back to the good old days, where a few likely lads, with more enthusiasm than talent, were pulled in off the streets, handed a grubby green jersey and told "when you hear number 10 shout 'fundamental', kick for the right-hand corner and leg it".

Of course, we'll never win, but at least it'll be fun to watch.

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