Eddie and the lads just love to make us sweat, don’t they? And as it happens, it’s often the Eye-talians (as Bertie might call them) that provide the opposition for the early season sphincter clencher.
Tonight’s match was painful to watch. The scrum was cat. We coughed up lineouts to order. The back row were runners-up in the battle on the floor. Passes were missed, balls were dropped, but somehow we won.
Now on the face of it I should be worried. But to tell the truth I’m not. We were missing three key players (OK, missing key players is something that worries me), but it was a nothing game. If we had lost, it would have meant nothing. And I would imagine that sentiment was going through the heads of several Irish players (and the management) tonight.
Look at it this way. This is a match of little consequence, destined to be footnote in the history of Irish rugby. If there was a 50-50 ball coming your way from the sky, and you know that if you contest it with your heart and soul you could get injured and miss the World Cup, would you? Of course not.
There was the predictable doom and gloom in the RTE studio this evening. Ryle and Moany Tony (yes I know he was the outhalf on The Greatest Day The World Has Ever Known, but he’s a pain in the hoop as a commentator) were equally pessimistic.
Before this match my bottom line was no new injuries. If we could win as well that would be a bonus. If we could win with some style, well that would be even better.
We won. No new injuries. I’m reasonably happy tonight.