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Sunday 18 March 2018

Regrets? We have a few as famous Lansdowne Roar gets Gallic flavour

Jason O'Brien

IT was Edith Piaf who sang so hauntingly about having no regrets. "Je ne regrette rien," she told us repeatedly, increasing her defiance each time.

No prizes for guessing she was French.

They're obviously made of sterner stuff than us, because Ireland is haunted by regrets this morning.

And we were haunted by 'La Marseillaise' billowing through the new Lansdowne Road with 20 minutes to go in yesterday's game -- that beautiful, sloping roof trapping the sound of the French national anthem within the stadium and ensuring the home fans stewed slowly, with a pinch of garlic.

Can we give that stupid sloping roof to the IMF as a down payment?

The French were 10 points up at that point in the first Six Nations game at the still-gleaming stadium, and well on their way to taking the sheen off it.

Ireland fought back, but there was still time for one more regret: Sean Cronin knocking on when the chance of a last-gasp -- if undeserved -- winning try was in his hands.


If we were French, we'd presumably pass it off with one of those Gallic shrugs they're famous for. But we're Irish. So we'll wallow in it.

"France didn't win that game, Ireland lost it," Victor Redfield from Stepaside said afterwards, admittedly leaving us a little flummoxed.

"Too many handling errors, too indisciplined, too many turnovers, too many knock-ons, too many basic errors in the lineout, too many stupid kicks."

It sounds like a lot, but he could go on.

"We gave it to them with all the penalties in the first half," he said. "And don't even start me on the referee."

We moved along quickly.

It is increasingly commonplace to have a pop at the man in the middle -- de rigueur, even -- but Englishman Dave Pearson need not expect 100,000 welcomes on his next visit.

"Ah, he was brutal," was the best Karen Nolan from Limerick could muster as she headed for Slattery's at the bottom of Bath Avenue, and the bottom of a pint glass.

"But I think Ireland will have to look at itself first and all the errors. They only lost by three but even if they got that try they wouldn't have deserved to win. France were better. Maybe average was good enough."

A day of ifs, buts and maybes, then.

Passing us on the way down were the French fans, cock of the walk. Florent Buisson from Avignon had a Gallic rooster hat on his head, and a spring in his step.

"It's a good day," he beamed. "Great atmosphere -- like a home match."


But he wasn't wrong. The French travelled in their thousands, and the famed Lansdowne Roar caught in the throat in response. Beaten on and off the park. Like the Irish front row, it wasn't pretty.

"Yes, Ireland will be back -- there are great players like O'Driscoll, O'Connell," Maxime Aalis from Clermont said absent-mindedly, his eyes fixed on the Grand Slam.

"They are still a good team, very good fighting spirit."

He just stopped himself giving us a pat on the head for effort.

It was grim. We'll wallow in it for a couple of weeks.

Regrets? We have a few.

Irish Independent

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