Sport Rugby

Friday 22 November 2019

Tony Ward: 'The dream ending to the dream day... a cocktail of rugby drama sent from heaven'

Tony Ward
Tony Ward
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

We can moan all we want about the unfairness of a system that sees staggered starts to what we like to regard as the jewel in the northern hemisphere crown.

But when we end up with edge-of-the-seat excitement and thrill-a-minute rugby culminating in the dream ending to the dream day then it's time to borrow from our Aussie friends and say "fair dinkum'

What transpired in Rome, Edinburgh and London was extraordinary by any standard -  but particularly so given that so much of the turgid, paint drying stuff had gone before.

Perhaps it was the pressure of the day, perhaps the knowledge that results elsewhere were having such an effect but when you mix it all together and crunch the numbers the very bottom line is a final day cocktail of rugby drama sent from heaven.

The Welsh and English were good but the Irish better again and on the balance of play over the November series and throughout this Six Nations campaign the best team in the northern hemisphere at this point in time has come out on top. Isn't it just great to be able to say that.

Former Scottish and Lions coach Jim Telfer questioned why it is Joe Schmidt is already revered so much on this side of the Irish Sea. Now I think he knows as in two seasons in charge he has recorded back to back Six Nations success for the first time in our history. what a day, what a coach, what a captain, what a group of players and what truly fantastic Irish support.

Take out Sunday rugby and it was just like old times in Edinburgh with Princes Street, Rose Street, the Royal Mile and just about everywhere else in between a sea of green as they came in their droves to support a group of down to earth lads giving their all every time they run out.

We lost our way in Cardiff and were caught napping but boy did this performance, irrespective of the title retention that was to follow, reflect a squad in search of redemption. To beat a Scottish side in transition by the score we did on their patch takes some doing. The 40-10 score line was impressive but the substance to it even more so again as each and every one of those called into action delivered to the peak of his powers on the day.

And therein lies the real positive from this great season for me. We ain't the finished article but we have now in place a squad in which those who come on mid match are at least the equal of those they replace. Teams no longer win silverware only squads do and as we have seen four times out of five this championship we now have in situ a squad to compete at the highest level and specifically that means at England 2015.

We have yet to make it into the last four at a rugby world cup but with the Italians and French the main opposition success in those games will open up the possibility of a tilt at the Pumas in the quarter final. We'll put on the breaks at this point just for now and not lose the run of ourselves because for sure our main man and his on field general won't. Instead let us bask in another great day for Irish rugby as for those of us so privileged to be present just walking out of that Murrayfield ground and you felt ten feet tall. Thank you Joe, thank you Paulie, thank you lads. Go raibh maith agaibh go leir       

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Champions Cup returns, Jacob Stockdale's development, and Simon Zebo goes back to Munster

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport