Tuesday 21 November 2017

Welsh lead ref and ERC a merry dance

PAUL O'CONNELL was red carded, but the Welsh forward who held him off the ball got away free. His name was Jon Thomas, so I suppose that's punishment enough in itself.

Donncha O'Callaghan was kept back, while trying to get to a ruck. And at the breakdown, the Munster players, who were trying to get on to the next conflict, were hugged.

This leads us to the inescapable conclusion that the Ospreys were so enamoured with the waltz that they might well have been auditioning for Gavin Henson's part in Strictly Come Dancing.

At least they weren't violent.

Clermont hit Sexton high and late. Another player was the victim of a crude attack, but neither the ref nor his wing men, not to mention the citing commissioner, spotted any of the infringements. There's a job going on the bridge of the Titanic lads.

French teams are traditionally much braver at home. Moss Keane was deliberately kicked in the head on his first visit to Paris, which was also the occasion of his first cap. Moss was stitched up, played on and it went through his head that all that blood would be very handy in the making of black puddings. Years later Peter Clohessy was banned by the IRFU for doing unto the French what the French did unto us.


I innocently thought that in this age of Google Maps there were no hiding places in which to practise the dark acts. The ERC must police the home French matches more vigilantly. The French have this attitude that they must win at home at all costs.

I hope the French will not try any dirty stuff in what has been billed as the 'Fever in the Aviva'. Don King was probably called in as marketing consultant.

There's a lot of fighting talk before the fighting starts in boxing. Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys said Paul O'Connell wasn't a dirty player, but then he went on to whinge that Gavin Henson got 'ten weeks' for something similar. He was actually banned for seven on appeal, Humph. Sure Gav spent more time than that buckleppin' at 'Strictly Come Dancing'. And he had previous when he was barred from a pub in Wales.

Humphreys' intervention was little short of disgraceful. He was putting pressure on the adjudicators of what was a sub-judice case. This was clearly an attempt to have O'Connell banned for a prolonged period of time. And where's the empathy? Paul has had a terrible time with injuries and now this so-called sportsman interferes with what effectively is a quasi-judicial process. I'm astounded the ERC haven't hauled Humphreys up before a disciplinary tribunal.

I can hear the men who man the Muppet box moaning that there was no mention of Alan Quinlan's eye contact on Leo Cullen in this piece. Quinlan was all wrong and he knows that. It's in his book. I promised his feisty mother Mary I'd review it, but only if it was good. And it's not good, Mary. Not good at all. It's a great read!

The Munster and Leinster coaches will tell you there's no needle between their teams and the Welsh and French. Yes, The Spike is a toothpick. I'm told that Elizabeth Taylor and Wales' own Richard Burton fought twice as much when they reunited and so it is in these back-to-back Heineken Cup weekends.

Munster are a better side than the Ospreys, but they are away from home. It should be some night. I've been to Swansea in between the wars -- 'Nam and Kilkenny versus Tipp. Yes, they are a hospitable people, but as for their forwards coach...

We'll put that matter to rest with an obituary. Our friends are falling like leaves in wintry weather. John Sexton passed away this week. He had a mighty send-off.

Jonathan was allowed time off training to attend the funeral. It was tough on him what with all the talk of a move to Stade Francais.

His grandfather was 'Daddy John' because he thought the title 'Grandad' would make him old. He always had the heart of a boy and he enjoyed life. John loved his 41, our version of 25, and a deck was placed in his coffin along with a betting slip.


He could be very funny. "When I was yee'r age," he teased us teenagers, "I had two girlfriends. One inside the hall dancing, and the other one outside minding my bike."

He was the kind of a fella who would always make sure a young lad wouldn't have to pay for the grub on the way home from a game and he was decent, not from showing off, but in that it gave him genuine pleasure as was the way of his generation.

Brenda, John's wife, was as elegant as ever even in her grief. Her daughters- in- law were heartbroken. His five sons are as gentlemanly as their dad, but the grandkids stole the show.

Their beloved 'Daddy John', who saw it as his sacred duty to spoil grandchildren, would have been very proud. I found solace in the way they conducted themselves. They laughed and cried, but always at the right time.

There is continuity in death. I think it's only when someone passes on that you see that person in those he left behind. And John Sexton's legacy was all good.

Irish Independent

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