This week’s Gossip From The Mart is brought to you by the letter X.
X is for Xylophone (from the Greek words ξύλον — xylon, “wood” + φωνή —phonē, “sound, voice”, meaning “wooden sound”) is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden (not steel) bars struck by mallets.
Xenophobia is defined [by Wikipedia, no less] as “an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange”. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “stranger,” “foreigner” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.”
Diverting sightly from all the forrenur-fear, however [“They come over here, take all our jobs, all these bluffers with their Southern Hemisphere accents in the clubhouse stealing our wimmin etc.”], Farrelly manages to slip in a paragraph of prize trolling:
“That policy has not helped Ireland cater for their current lack of depth in the back-row. The country is screaming out for open-side wing-forwards, but Willie Faloon has played a bit-part role due to the presence of Wannenburg, with talented No 8 Chris Henry forced into the less-suited No 7 jersey, hurting his own international prospects in the process.”
Yes, Ireland suffer from a lack of depth in the back-row. Genuinely. Why, in the last six months Declan Kidney only played Mike McCarthy, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy, Kev McLaughlin, Donnacha Ryan, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings, Stephen Ferris and David Wallace in the back row for Ireland … just the ten players, or more than three international back rows.
Going a little further back to June 2010, he also gave caps to Chris Henry, Rhys Ruddock and John Muldoon, rounding that number out to 13 backrow players capped in 18 months. Peter O’Mahony’s explosive arrival on the scene for Munster will likely warrant an inclusion in the Six Nations training squad, and James ‘Germany’ Coughlan can consider himself unlucky to be uncapped. Even with the injuries to multi-capped internationals Leamy and Wallace, Ireland are anything but short in the back row. It’s probably our strongest unit.
There are six contracted back rows in Ulster [Diack, Faloon, Ferris, Henry, McComish and Wannenburg], seven in Leinster [Auva’a, Heaslip, Jennings, McLaughlin, O’Brien, Ruddock, Ryan] and nine in Munster [Butler, Coughlan, Holland, Leamy, O’Donnell, O’Mahony, Ronan, Ryan, Wallace]. Out of twenty-two  of them, only one  isn’t eligible to play for Ireland: Wannenburg.
I know Leo Auva’a and Robbie Diack don’t have the most traditionally Irish of names, but they’re eligible to play rugby for the country, which is good enough for me. If some journalist wants to be the judge of who’s Irish enough to play for Ireland and who isn’t, the Mole will let him at it. Hopefully he’ll turf out all the commies in the country as well.