By Tiger Paws Junior
I was up in Sandymount in Dublin signing an acting contract there on Monday and as I was walking back into city, I became a little cold. I had fallen into a shadow, a shadow of one of the biggest homes in Dublin. The home of the Irish Rugby and Soccer teams – the Aviva Stadium. Or Lansdowne Road for all you pensioners reading this.
I thought I might as well go in and have an old gander given that we’re covering the World Cup in London and Cardiff.
I’d say I rocked up at around 4.30pm and the last tour started at 4pm so I was very late – bloody typical.
‘Not a bother’ said the nice lady at reception. She didn’t charge me a cent and she even escorted me to where the tour was at that moment (pitch side – my favourite).
We arrived at pitch, through the tunnell and we could immediately smell the beautiful turf being devoted over. I wouldn’t be surprised if tiny little hugable mice were employed to care for each blade of grass every morning and tell them a story before the sun goes down every night.
Because I had missed about 35 minutes of the 1 hour tour, our tour guide kindly showed me the dressing rooms and training/shower facilities. What a nice guy…
I think that last photo is amazing because it allows a proper warm up to be done in private, inside, with a clear head and no background noise to distract away from their one job. The headphones go in and the players are doing what they need to do individually.
I was reading Cara yesterday on a flight back to London and Conor (Murray) and Robbie Henshaw were talking about the prep for the World Cup and how it has to be a lot better than on any given Six Nations year.
They have more preparation time together. They all know each other better, they are tighter, they go on Roller-coasters and Jamie Heaslip forces them all to pose for a photo for his legions of social media fans or for his next Q/A special on Facebook (lolz)…in other words they are a tight group…and that really translates onto the field. They know each others movements completely because they have seen them before a few days ago. If Bowe is coming off the left into Payne, he knows exactly the second he should pass it to and that Kearney or Earls will be outside for a skip if the defence has rushed up. Zebo proved that with his 26 metre zinger to Earlsy over two blitzed defenders.
It’s just how it is in Ireland. Wales and New Zealand work on similar principles. England and Australia don’t.
I get hundreds of emails a day asking me why I am biased against England.
The answer is simple: They’re not as good as Ireland…or New Zealand…or Wales (clearly). I’m a patriarch, not a Nationalist. I don’t believe my country is better than anyone elses simply because I was born in it. But I will support them over any other team on a sporting field. I was born in Ireland and I dislike living in London and performing in the West End. It’s lonely and the people are mean and tired. I don’t really care, I get paid…but I don’t necessarily like it over here because of their philosophies.
In a rugby context I just think England have a lot of words off the field and very little action on the field. I don’t envy them though, their country and media are watching and almost hoping for any flaws and cracks to appear so they can splash it. Basically it comes down to the fact that I think I wouldn’t have been allowed in to a tour of Twickenham thirty minutes late. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. I also think drop goals shouldn’t win games…but that’s just me.
That doesn’t happen in Ireland. We welcome people and bend the rules if it’s fair. The Irish team are looking to Italy and France with hunger in their eyes. We wish they were on today and tomorrow just so we can win and get it over with. Would the games ever come so we can show the international stage that we are 2nd in the world not 6th… but are we 1st in the world?
Sure you’ll just have to wait and see. Paul O’Connell knows the answer, the Irish people all know the answer, you just don’t know it yet. Or maybe you do…you just don’t want to admit it yet.
In two weeks you will switch sides and start cheering with us saying sure, I’m Irish. I was cheering for my side now I’m cheering for you guys… I mean ‘Us’ guys.
We’re all in this together and you’re more than welcome to come in. A sea of green is coming for Italy, France, Argentina, Wales and finally New Zealand. If we win or lose, it’s still coming…and we’re gonna have a great time showing the world what Irish respect and play means.
Best from Brixton,