08 October 2011

A Defeat in More Ways than One

This morning didn't go quite according to plan. Having spent the last week ill and very busy, such that the blog's been very low on my list of priorities, I'm now away at a retreat centre. I got up at half five this morning, well ahead of everyone else so I could watch the rugby -- well, the Celtic clash between Ireland and Wales at any rate -- before everyone else appeared for Mass, which is how our day together was to begin. So anyway, up I got, unlocking the common room door, turning on the telly, grabbing the remote, and pulling up a chair, only to discover that try as I might I couldn't get the telly to play. Channels would notionally appear, but without a signal, and eventually I conceded defeat.

I know, I could have watched it on my netbook, but I couldn't remember the wifi codes, not having had a pen to scrawl them down when we'd been told them, so in the end I gave up, and resigned myself to a couple of hours' reading and writing before Mass.

Unable to resist the temptation to find out how things were going, though, I eventually texted a friend at home in Dublin, one having keen eyes, an analytical mind, and a deep knowledge and love of the game. How had it gone thus far?

'Ireland the better team but not converting,' she said. 'Early try for Wales 0-7. Lots of pressure from us but no tries and we opt not to kick goals x 3. Eventually score pen in front of posts. Wales score pen straight back 3-10. ROG having poor game. HT. 2nd half. Ireland out of traps fast. Messy but try scored on sideline by Earls. ROG converts. 10-10 now 48 mins.'

That sounded awkward but ultimately encouraging, and I was about to text to say so when she sent the grim update, 'Wales hit back with try 10-15'

'Thank you,' I replied. 'Bit surprised it's ROG rather than Sexton today. Also, blast on the update. This clearly could go either way. Wonder why we didn't go for those goals. Hmmm. Thank you.'

'Exactly. Makes no sense to play ROG and eschew kicks,' she said, reading my mind, 'He's trying to go into contact as well and keeps losing the ball. Sexton on at 55 mins with Reddan.'

Moments later there was another  text, dashing my hopes that Sexton would change things, bluntly saying 'Wales over again. Horrific defence from Ireland. 10-22. We don't deserve it, I'm afraid.'

'Blast,' I said, 'That's hugely disappointing. It's no longer that we're playing better but not achieving, then?'

'Welsh execution clinical. They have fewer chances but are taking them. Few of our players not performing. Earls good in attack, poor in defence. Trimble replaces at 72 mins. Still 10-22.'

And then a few minutes later she wrapped it up, 'Will finish 10-22. Wales deserve it. Kidney has questions to answer re selections and tactics.'

'Thanks,' I said, baffled by choices but grateful for the updates, 'It does sound deeply perverse to have gone for O'Gara and not kicked. Still, I'll wish Wales well in the semi. Neither England nor France deserves to go through.'

I turned on my phone later on the day, during a coffee break, to see my housemate had texted to say that we probably both wished we'd stayed in bed this morning. France versus Wales it was to be, so. Come on Wales!

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