Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Gasp at Croker

Instead of the customary brace of pints we started our rugby international day with a couple of mojitos at the Cuban stand in Jury's - part of some International Bazaar for charity. And then a taxi to Croke Park for Ireland versus Australia. It was unseasonably warm, dry turf, no wind, blue skies -ideal conditions for a good open game. And what a treat it is to have such a stadium. Aside from its visual impressiveness, it's easy to get to your seat, the pitch of the stands give you great theatre, and the facilities are a huge improvement on anything an Irish sports fan has encountered before - plenty of toilets for a start, and a chance to enjoy a warm Bushmill's.

The match itself was highly entertaining with Ireland snatching an unlikely draw in the last move of the game. They were on the back foot throughout after conceding a soft try in the first minute. This came through ring rustiness perhaps - although the speed of the Australian defence had as much to do with it as O'Gara's pass and O'Driscoll's fumble. Australia kicked intelligently and kept Ireland pinned back for a lot of the game, they also dominated in the scrums - with our lads getting poor ball as they retreated. But elsewhere we were more than a match for them. Kearney was excellent (apart from some poor kicking - too high, no length), O'Gara solid enough, and the ageless David Wallace a hero in attack and defence. But Paddy Wallace is a weak link, an insubstantial figure in a substantial team. Bring back D'Arcy for God's sake.

And what a pompous tosspot Jonathan Kaplan is. I listened to him on the ref audio channel lecturing the players like schoolboys, and getting great deference in return. Give me Nigel Owen any day. And of course we get the usual debacle around resetting the scrum and the completely arbitrary penalties at the breakdown. What a f***ing mess the current rules are.