Sean O’Brien has put his hand up on behalf of his team mates and said that Ireland’s players have to take the blame. Although ‘compacts’ – agreements between parties that don’t really suit anybody – are all the rage across Europe these days, the Mole feels obliged to refuse Seanie’s offer. No dice, big man.
The Mole remembers the Scotland game in 1992 (discussed here) where Ireland, and Ralph Keyes in particular, were booed off the pitch. This was the same season that the national team went down to NZ and, after a heroic defeat, were smashed off the park in the final test. That tour was referred to before the third test under the impression that those days were long behind us. It seems that during the amateur days players couldn’t tour due to prior work commitments while during the professional days players’ holidays are interrupted due to unforeseen rugby commitments. The result is still much the same though. That’s progress!
The castigation of Keyes wasn’t cool then and hasn’t improved with time. Understandably, that game marked the end of Keyes international career and he was spared the trip to Paris that concluded the Five Nations. Instead, Derek McAleese was thrown to the lions and Ireland lost 44-12. That was McAleese’s only cap. That’s the blame that players take: they get dropped. The decision to drop them should remain with the coach, not with the mob.
Supporters don’t want to berate their team, which is why they’re referred to as supporters and not spectators. It’s the same reason the adjective “fair-weather” is pejoratively applied to “fans”; the understanding is that although you complain about your team, you’ll defend them to others, particularly outsiders. That’s the agreement as I understand it from a supporter’s point of view. As this support is given so willingly, it must seem to players that it’s the natural order of things. When it goes, or is taken away, it leaves a vacuum, as David Corkery referred to “I had six months to adjust – I was still paid for six months – and then after that, you’re literally on your own. It was horrific. I wasn’t prepared for it at all”.
Is Seanie suggesting that the players don’t want this support, but would prefer the ire that many people feel? I wouldn’t feel good about that so, sorry Seanie, seeing as it’s my support and blame to give, you can have the former but not the latter. I’m disappointed, but I’m not looking for your pound of flesh. Instead, I adhere to Truman’s maxim about where the buck stops.
“Riefenstahl” Farrelly has used the pages of the Indo to tell the nation how much “the Ireland head coach is compromised in this position”. The same Ireland head coach who was given carte blanche to appoint his own coaching ticket, hasn’t had an assistant foisted on him (Eddie, Declan) as experienced by previous regimes and gets to dictate to provincial coaches about when they pick their players? Pull the other one Hugh, it’s got bells on it.
And if the buck isn’t to stop with our beleaguered and compromised head coach then it has to move onwards and upwards to the suits and blazers who appointed him and retain his services. The mob wants to know what they’re thinking of doing next. Do they know?