13 October 2007

I'm not happy about this...

Good grief. England won. 14-9. And what's more, they did so through pure strength of character.

Let's not kid ourselves. Barring the providential talents of Jonny Wilkinson, they're still rubbish. They're not even a shadow of the team that conquered the rugby world four years ago. These guys are journeymen and crocks. They play ugly rugby, and haven't an ounce of creativity. They're shocking to watch. They're the same team that was humiliated 43-13 by Ireland just six months ago, and 36-0 by South Africa only a few weeks back.

And yet...

There's something heroic about this, isn't there? I thought they'd lose to Tonga. I thought they'd lose to Australia. I thought they'd lose to France. And yet somehow, they've ballsed it out. They're giving everything they've got, refusing to be beaten, refusing to go away. It's really hard not to admire that.

And on top of that, look at their reactions after each win they've somehow battled for. Look at Brian Ashton, at Phil Vickery, at Martin Corry, at Wilkinson himself. They can't believe it. They're amazed, ecstatic, and somehow really humble. There's not a hint of the smugness of the Carling era, or the arrogance of the Woodward-Johnson era.

Humility. This is something I've never seen from an English team. I like it.

I'd kind of like Argentina to win tomorrow, and to win the whole thing. But if South Africa win tomorrow, I've a feeling I'll be cheering on England next week.

Perhaps I should lie down. This isn't meant to happen; while the blood of Albion flows in my veins, I have the heart of a Gael.


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