Fervent fans must tread carefully to temper talk of 'inevitable championship'
I went on a friend's stag on the first weekend of last year's Six Nations. On the Saturday, Ireland rocked the Millennium Stadium, Simon Zebo became a superstar, and we were on our way to an inevitable championship, if not the Grand Slam.
"Day 2" was supposed to be a quiet wind down centred around one of Sky's extra Super Sundays where Liverpool played Manchester City.
Quickly, a couple of us were drawn to the small TV at the corner of the bar. You see, Italy were beating France. Now, there was no way this could last, but given what had happened in Cardiff, it was best to keep an eye on it. We could do with getting France out of the way this early.
As the game went on, the crowd around the television became bigger and bigger. This felt like something special. So enthralling was the Italian win, it even managed to get the majority of a Dublin pub to somehow forget a Liverpool game was on TV.
Of course, it's all very well supporting Italy when they're no threat to us.
Obviously, we didn't march to an inevitable championship. Six weeks later, Irish rugby was at its lowest ebb. We didn't win another game, scored two more tries, lost to Italy for the first time in Six Nations history and Declan Kidney's career as Ireland coach was over. In the end, we were saved from the wooden spoon only by France's superior incompetence.
Still, that was a great 24 hours.