Look at us, like some old timers sat around pining after the girlfriends of our youth. It’s Tuesday and we’re still smiling. Finally the Six Nations has delivered and we’re all satisfied nods, post coital cigarettes and “I told you so’s”. It’s only taken five weeks of fumbling around like a permanently erect teen, but we got there. The clasp is undone and we are swinging free. How lovely.
Ireland got going early. It seemed to have been stored up for a long time, for it came out fast and fulsome: Italy, the victims of all those pent up tries. Despite good showings of late, Belladonna failed to turn up in anything like the right outfit. Emerald green poured through holes, linking and twirling like a prosecco-fuelled hen party. As early as the sixth minute Italian wingers were patting it down to absolutely no-one, and Ireland were pouncing. Earls was sent through gaps and front foot ball was forthcoming. Soon enough, it seemed to be on from anywhere and the move of the game was swept home by Heaslip just before half time. To think this was the same side that toiled against France on the second weekend was bizarre. Ireland through fifty points, Schmidt redeemed and spent. The Azzurri left with just a long walk of shame.
And then, back to the scene of a crime. England v Wales, Twickenham, not six months since Robshaw inexplicably said ‘Let us kick to the corner’. For all Lancaster’s dithering, Jones has got down and dirty pretty quick. For a man on self-imposed media exile, he did well to wind up the Welsh pre-match. And it worked. For forty minutes there was only one side playing; the men in red looked as though they’d turned up on the wrong date. Krutoje © (it’ll catch on) ran the engine room and England purred through the points, Watson sauntered in unopposed and Joe Marler got so excited, he questioned Samson Lee’s tarmacking skills.
In the second period, the absolute worst thing for a Wales fan happened. They started to play some rugby. Having only snacked on a Dan Biggar charge down, graciously donated by a George Ford looking suspiciously out of sorts, the visitors unleashed whatever the opposite of Warrenball is called. North strode in and then Faletau brushed off tackles that would have had Paul Gustard bringing up his Jaffa cakes. Suddenly, it was a four point game with only seconds on the clock. Could Gatland’s men piss in the fruit punch from here? Wales launched a final attack and even though video evidence found George North still in play when he passed the ball back infield, Craig Joubert blew his ultimate whistle. Wales fans the world over understood what the Scots had been going on about post RWC.
Speaking of which, France went to Murrayfield. The Championship title, unfathomably, was still on for Guy Noves’ men, but what we all wanted was some decent rugby. Les Bleus started well, a neatly worked try saw Guirado scamper through. But this was just foreplay designed to unbutton the jockstrap; Hogg dipped inside his man to score and then Taylor tapped and went, and just carried on going. Fickou claimed France’s second and a half time reprieve, but it wasn’t long before Scotland were pressing again. Uncle Vern looked on appreciatively as ‘Little Stuey’ slotted from just inside his own half; Machenaud returned the favour, but as first Dunbar, then WP Nel, brought Scotland up the field, you felt a climax was coming. Laidlaw’s miss pass was touched on by the irrepressible Hogg, and Visser adopted the missionary position in the corner. Only two from two but you have to feel Scotland are one of the best looking sides in the competition.
And that, as they say, was that. A gloriously dirty weekend, especially if you are English; little left but foistiness and wet patches. Same again next Saturday? Perhaps try out some new positions… A little higher up the table? Everyone will be hoping so.
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