Saturday 23 February 2019

Billy Keane: 'No place for tut-tutting as Sexton and Co start their title defence'

 

Jonathan Sexton and his Godfather Billy Keane. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton and his Godfather Billy Keane. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

The best fun weekend of the lot is nearly here and the 'Tut-Tuts' are not happy, as you might expect. The partying begins today, which is traditionally the first day of spring, ahead of tomorrow's Ireland v England Six Nations clash.

But before we define a 'Tut-Tut', first we will bring you back to the meeting between the two teams in the final match of last year's championship.

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Ireland won the Grand Slam on St Patrick's Day, and how we celebrated. The snow came down in a blizzard. I read somewhere that London was colder than Moscow.

We were making our way from St Mary's to Richmond and there wasn't a taxi to be hired. The band of brothers took up a position at a taxi rank and we might as well have kept on walking. Cabs flew by and we pinched ourselves to check if we existed.

It must have been the fire blazing in the hearth that drew my eyes to the suburban scene. There was a man of around my own age on the inside and even though it was only 11 at night, he was already in his pyjamas.

The man in the pyjamas was looking out through the Victorian windows at the snow storm, and in his hand was a glass of red wine.

His beloved sat by the fire and she was reading a novel, which judging by the pinkness of the cover must have been chick-lit. There was a mug on the arm rest. I'd say it was cocoa.

I turned to my companions and asked them to have me put down if they ever see saw me in such a state as the man looking through the window at the snow.

I have no doubt that the couple in the sitting room were 'Tut-Tuts'. They closed the curtains when I sang The Fields of Athenry. It was their loss.

This is a time for living it up, getting out and cutting loose. There is no better drinking companion than the English rugby supporter. For them too this is the best away weekend of the Six Nations.

Dublin is still a friendly, easy-to-manage city, with some of the best pubs anywhere. Yes, there is binge-drinking and, God between us and all harm, chip-eating. Word has it meat burgers are devoured in vast quantities as part of the feast known locally as soakage.

The 'Tut-Tuts' will be aghast. The 'Tut' is not short for Tutankhamun, the boy King of Egypt who most likely died of a broken leg; the name derives from the soft-shuffle spittle sound made when the area just below the tip of the tongue is placed at the soft knoll at the rear of the front teeth, and quickly removed.

The manoeuvre, which requires no particular training or dexterity, is repeated at least twice for effect. If the 'Tut-Tuts' repeat the tut-tutting several times over, it means they are very annoyed indeed.

The resultant sound is very much like that used by Skippy the Bush Kangaroo when he was warning the children of the dangers of bush fires and great whites. Skippy was a big favourite of us youngsters back in the days of black-and-white television. I often wondered what became of him.

Another favourite was Batman, who unlike the recent incumbents, was an uncomplicated sort of fella. The first Batman was as brave as he was chivalrous. Batman was before his time. Ever aware of branding, Batman named his car the Batmobile, and it could well be that the Pope followed Batman's lead.

Eddie Jones used a special effect from the old Batman series as part of his continuing obsession with his nemesis Johnny Sexton. But the obsession is unrequited.

I doubt if Sexton has even heard of the Bat-phone, and he takes no notice of Eddie.

Batman was not just well ahead of Madison Avenue: he had Nokia bate sick as well. Batman had a phone in the car 40 years before Apple came up with the idea. The Bat-phone was a hotline from Commissioner Gordon. It had a red button beeping on the top and was only used when Gotham City was in grave danger, which was every week.

Eddie said Johnny Sexton has a hotline to the referees. Eddie, the young lad isn't even the captain. It's all about Rory's stories. Tut-Tut Eddie. The English supporters are a decent bunch who are not fond of off-the-field unsporting, psychological mind games.

Last year Eddie successfully upset a young out-half but when it comes to Ireland the only head Eddie gets inside is his own. I suppose I'm worse to take any notice of Eddie. His team may win in spite of him.

At least 12 of the English team would be certainties for the Lions. I wish Brian O'Driscoll would talk up the opposition. He is far too honest.

The performance of Exeter in Thomond against Munster will give England confidence. Exeter won most of the big collisions and England have more guile behind the scrum. Owen Farrell is a master playmaker and has plenty of bottle. He seldom misses his kicks.

Yes this will be very close. The home venue could make all the difference but only if the Irish take up their seats in good time.

This big weekend only happens once every two years and it could be the last time Sexton plays against England. This is the rugby version of a rare equinox.

Even the 'Tut-Tuts' will be up for this one. This is no time for silent clap-sync. Please take off your sheepskin gloves before you enter the stadium.

Irish Independent

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