16 3 mins 12 yrs

Giv’em a reason to hate us lads …

The final day of the 6 Nations dawns tomorrow and all eyes will be on Dublin. I cannot describe how much I’ve been looking forward to this one all week. England go to Lansdowne Road/the Aviva with the Calcutta Cup in the bag after a win against the Jocks last week. If we win tomorrow it’s the Championship, Triple Crown and Grand Slam for what has been the best team in the Northern Hemisphere this year. With the World Cup looming in a few months a fancied Wales were seen off in Cardiff, Italy were put to the sword in style and the French beaten in a stunningly intense 80 minutes. The madman Lièvremont sent out a team for a punch up. England obliged him in a game where both packs took out anything above grass height. That same intensity tomorrow and we’ll do it.

Dublin, however, is where dreams have often gone to die. Ireland are better than they’ve shown this year and they’re due a Big Performance. England are full of energy and spirit but this Irish team has bags of experience, pride to recapture, a good recent record against England to maintain and World Cup places to secure.

We were in this very same position in 2003. England coach Martin Johnson was the Captain then of a team which had blown the Championship repeatedly on the final day in previous years. A World Cup was looming, England went to Dublin determined not to blow it again and so took the field determined to make themselves feel at home. We almost had a diplomatic incident …

Prediction: England by … one would be enough. Since I’ll be watching it in the village rugby club someone will have to remind me of the score the next morning in any case.

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  1. England go to Lansdown Road

    Hate to be a pedant Pete, but it’s actually Lansdowne:

    “The stadium was named after the nearby road, which in turn was named after William Petty-FitzMaurice, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne. The Marquis was also the Earl of Shelburne, and nearby Shelbourne Road is also named after him.”

    Link here

    I live close to Lansdowne Road in Belfast (no sports stadium) which is why I am aware of the spelling.

  2. You are, of course, correct Peter. Even my prof-roading is letting me down. Corrected.

    I just hope an “e” is not the only thing we deprive Ireland of this weekend.

    David –

    Have a pint for me. I’d have given up an awful lot to have got my mitts on a ticket for this one.

  3. The current England team has yet to reach its full potential. For me Toby Flood is still doing some daft kicking, and it is interesting to see how things changed around for England when they brought on Johnny Wilkinson etc.
    In fact I think they should have been brought on at the beginning of the second half, as England were floundering in the first half. Scotland put up a very good performance- the wife and I were pleasantly surprised! The new players are giving Scotland more pace and aggression instead of the traditional “siege mentality” they usually adopt.
    Ireland are looking tired and somehow jaded.
    Brian O’Driscoll is as great a player as ever, but somewhat muted. O’Gara was out of sorts. Peter Stringer (a great player in my opinion) was also under par. Tommy Bowe played well again, but overall Ireland seem to have lost their sparkle and sense of destiny!
    Quite likely they too are affected by Ireland’s economic woes and the fact that their political leaders have sold them into slavery to the EUSSR…

    England SHOULD win.
    I WANT them to win.
    All too often though,we either go to pieces or get complacent.
    They MUST develop the killer instinct and consistency in their play..
    and adopt some better choruses..instead of that dirgy “Swing Low….

    You couldn’t expect ANYONE to win with an anthem like that! 🙂

  4. Agit8ed –

    Floundering in the first half is a trait of this young England team. The (huge) positive is that they’re making the right decisions to sort it out themselves.

    In truth though it’s pretty simple; in trying to keep the game expansive with dynamic flankers (and all that) linking with the three quarters, they don’t commit enough bodies to the breakdown from the first whistle. Result? Slow ball and sluggishness.

    The Wales and France games were typical of this. Scrums and line outs were strong but it was only when they got back to committing men at the breakdown did the game properly swing our way.

    The game’s law is unchanging – if you’re the stronger, more powerful pack you smash the other lot and smash them again so you can keep on smashing them until they’re properly smashed. Then you can let the girls in the back have the ball until you fancy smashing the other lot once more.

    Sorry, I was a hooker, I feel quite strongly about this.

    The Jocks backline is pretty clueless. It was a close game but why was that? Because they fronted up hugely for 80 minutes. As always, the fatboys decide who wins the game.

    I think we’ll be ok as long as we keep our feet on the ground and remember that smashing the other lot up front is the prime task. Do that and the result will follow.

  5. Yes Pete

    I fear you guys will carry all before you tomorrow. This seems to be an unlucky Irish team – we were robbed last week in Cardiff by a duff linesman, who will hopefully never officiate again at an international.

  6. Peter –

    If England is sensible, then yes. But then Ireland is at home, and they also have that anger from last week inside them, just another reason for them to up their game. The touch judge certainly was duff, but I’d also cite Wales. Test rugby is a serious business and winning is the name of the game, but either Matthew Rees or Mike Phillips ought to have owned up. It would have been the right thing to do.

    I also have this dread about O’Gara’s boot. Ireland could have had a try at the end but blew it because clearly they don’t rate Sexton’s boot. If Ireland is in touch with 20 minutes to go he’ll come on looking to slot penalties and drop goals. It might be the difference.

  7. Can’t help commenting on the other battle England is waging (and losing) – that of making it beyond the league stage in the Cricket World Cup. What complete lack of character Andy Strauss and his men have shown – going down to Bangaladesh & Ireland, snatching a tie from the jaws of victory against India…

  8. As my bank, or rather our bank, is sponsoring these ridiculous happenings, I will be pressing the Board to rapidly reduce any sponsorship awards to events that have the effect of making such as I fall into a deep torpor sustained by sheer boredom.

    I will also be asking the Board to increase sponsorship for draughts, tiddleywinks and shove-ha’penny, on the grounds that more excitement is generated by such activities than all the rubbish spouted around the six-nations etc.

    Bah Humbug!

  9. By a lonely prison wall
    I heard a young man calling
    Nothing matters Mary when you’re free,
    Against the Famine and the Crown
    I rebelled they ran me down
    Now you must raise our child with dignity.

    Low lie the Fields of Athenry
    Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
    Our love was on the wing
    we had dreams and songs to sing
    It’s so lonely ’round the Fields of Athenry.

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