Ireland Wins 2015 RBS Six-Nations

Ireland retains Six-Nations title

You couldn’t make it up.

Three countries going for the Championship, and a fourth with an outside chance, all competing on the same day but not at the same time.

Wales to go first against Italy, Ireland to follow against Scotland and finally England to meet France, knowing exactly what their target was after seeing the first two games.

We knew it was always going to be a whole day of sport, but did we ever think we’d end up sweating little nodules of depleted uranium as time slowed down to a crawl and the clock ticked ever-more-slowly towards its endless, unattainable destination at Twickenham?  Did we ever suspect that rugby football was capable of distorting the space-time continuum?

Now, as it happens, I found myself in Nancy Blake’s, a fine establishment operated by staff of sympathy and knowledge much like corrida aficionados but without the cruelty.  A very Limerick pub, in other words, where customers and crew are united in a deep-seated obsession with rugby football and where it’s entirely possible that your barman might leap over the counter in a sudden fit of sport-inspired fury, or materialise at your shoulder to mutter some insightful words.  We’re fucked.

That sort of thing.

Today was the most astonishing thing ever.

I was in the same establishment six years ago when Ireland beat Wales to take the Grand Slam and I’ll confess that I shed a manly tear, but it had nothing on the heart-shredding excitement of today’s three-cornered fight to lift the cup.

The Welsh must surely have thought they had it nailed when they pounded Italy 61-20, but then Ireland came out and beat Scotland 40-10 in a complete sickener for Wales but also a target for England who faced France in the final game.

Those of us watching the Ireland game in Nancy’s, especially those of a sceptical disposition, muttered, brooded and crunched our knuckles when Ian Madigan ended the game with a shave-close miss of a penalty.  It could come down to this, we narrowed our eyes and warned each other.

And so it could, when England met France at Twickers and slowly ate into our 26-point lead.

I have to tell you, this England-France game was one of the finest matches I have ever witnessed in my entire life, even if England finally won 55-35.  If they had achieved that final converted try to win the Championship, I would have stood up and applauded them like everyone else because they would have deserved it.  They were magnificent, just as France were, and it made the Irish victory all the better, emerging from such a competitive fight.

Nevertheless, leaving all that aside, my poor old heart isn’t the better of it as England slowly nibbled their way into the points margin until eventually they were within a converted try of stealing the crown from us, and then with seconds to go, when the French could have kicked the ball dead in the 80th minute, they decided to run it one more time.

Why?

Because they weren’t playing for Ireland.  They were playing for France. But the decision still enraged the large French crowd of visitors in Nancy’s, all of them singing La Marseillaise, not to mention our indigenous French friends who live here all the time.

I caught the eye of my friend Guillaume and sent him a quizzical Gallic shrug.  Pourquois?

He replied with a shrug considerably more Gallic than mine, being French himself.  C’est la vie.  Or words to that effect.

As it happened, the final French upsurge came to nothing.  The Brits didn’t get their final try or their conversion but Jesus what a game of rugby.   One of the best I have ever seen in my entire life, and full credit to both teams.

What a great Six Nations.

Shouldn’t everyone be proud of it?

 

9 thoughts on “Ireland Wins 2015 RBS Six-Nations

  1. Not wanting to be a stickler, but shouldn’t it be ‘the English’ and not ‘the Brits’ in the fifth last line?

    Feel free to take this comment down once the correction is made.

  2. My intention wasn’t to be condescending. I just felt that in an article on rugby where at least three of the teams participating are British, refering to ‘the Brits’ was a little unclear.

  3. I’m exhausted! Having watched Wales/Italy at home then hot-tailing it down to the local I thought, em, couple of pints, then back home to probably see Wales lift it. Jeez, how wrong can you get! 6 pints later, nerves shredded, finally back in the armchair, but delighted after a great day of sport. any yep, proud :)

  4. To the other Niall. Please don’t not be so churlish. What you saw today eas probably the greatest finale to a Six Nations Championship (or even Five Nations) ever.

    What we saw today was this great sport played to it’s highest level of skill, attack, defence, inprovisation and general bedlam. Today, rugby won the day. Rugby regained it’s greatness.

    The game of rugby was the real winner. Ireland played good enough winning rugby to edge it. Fair play to England, they were (and are) a brilliant team (as Bock has alluded).

    The earlier rounds of this great competion were sobering. Where is rugby going? – was the currency of conversation. Introspection as to what direction the game as a whole was heading, especially in a World Cup year has been abroad and the number one conversation amoungst afectionados of the game. The dominance of defence, as demonstrated in the Wales v Ireland encounter last week combined with the contunuous attack through ariel bombardment, has left fans feeling flat, this style has crept in time and again over the past 20 years of professionalism.

    Today was a breath of fresh air. For 240 minutes today we saw real rugby. Rugby, played the way rugby was intended to be played from it’s inception. Some of the fare on offer resembled the likes of the famous Barbarians game in Aukland in 1974 or Frances defeat of the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-final back in ‘99.

    Anyhow Niall, enjoy the moment.

  5. Sitting by myself in my British flat in the midst of a small village in Devon. I held my breath all the way. What a day I had. I screamed, shouted, held my breath, tenderhooked all the way. wow oh wow, who gives a damn if I was sitting in a british flat or an english flat. Did it matter if anyone calls me Irish or Paddy. I am who I am and that was a Patriot so Damn proud. What a day.

  6. Ok, I just want to apologise if I’ve upset anyone.

    @Bock
    I didn’t get to see any of the matches as I was busy, but heard the results. I came on here because I know that you’re big into your rugby and generally do a good write-up. When I saw that you had written ‘the Brits’ near the end of the article, I though it was an honest mistake on your part. So my intention was to point that out, not in a childish point-scoring way, but more in a “I’ll give Bock a heads-up”. I didn’t necessarily want the comment to appear, I assumed you could take it down once you’d decided whether or not to make the correction.

    Once again, apologies for any offence caused.

  7. What an unbelievable day of rugby yesterday……
    it went right down to the wire….
    That’s what makes it the best rugby tournament in the world

  8. Yep it was incredible, I have no finger nails left…

    And watching the women’s team clinically and ruthlessly obliterate Scotland today was incredible too…I cannot wait to see that team play a world cup!

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