Dylan Hartley and Rory Best went  head to head last Friday night and there was only one - LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS

Dylan Hartley and Rory Best went head to head last Friday night and there was only one – LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS

The Mole was recently moved to speak out in defense of Sky Sports in a social situation. Suffice it to say that said defense went down just about as well as Randy Marsh’s appearance on Wheel of Fortune. Ohhhhhhhh. “Naggers”.

While being no fan of the Dirty Digger, my dislike for the dirt-raking media tycoon has always been tempered by the fact that Sky Sports do a brilliant job with the rugby at their disposal [and their boxing magazine show, Ringside, is consistently good – another ‘aye’ in their favour ]. You only have to compare the calibre of analysts ‘in the van’ to note the yawning gap between Sky’s coverage and that of RTE:

Sky: Dean Ryan breaks down the attacking tics of Northampton replacement outhalf Stephen Myler within a couple of minutes of his arrival on the pitch, noting how he tends to drift wide and leave a pop off his right elbow for a man coming inside on a switch, and comparing it to the previous roll-around ploys that Ryan Lamb – the man he replaced in the No10 jersey – favoured in the first half. 

RTE: Mark McDermott looks surprised that he’s on, points out that somebody passes to somebody else, spells out “T-R-Y”, is interrupted by Tom McGurk cutting to commercial when he’s on “R”. 

However, even my beloved Sky Sports rugby-covering types aren’t beyond criticism.

Let’s Take A Look At The Lions Index … Let’s F*cking Not

I get that there’s a commercial imperative to hype an end-of-season tour to which they own exclusive rights, and one in which so many important commercial entities have invested so much sponsorship money. I get that it has the potential to produce enormous revenues for all the corporations involved, especially those who have pumped in money at this early stage, but that those profits are also reliant on popular opinion and uptake. I get that. It’s not that I don’t understand it, it’s just that it’s already as irritating as a blue-arsed fly.

Their constant shilling of the Lions tour has already broken through the floodgates in Mole Towers, and the ground floor is awash with bolters.

If you were to believe the Sky hype, every game they broadcast has the potential to swing Warren Gatland’s mind in favour of some heretofore unacknowledged tyro; it doesn’t matter if it’s in the Premiership, the Amlin Challenge Cup or the Heineken Cup. If it’s on Sky, it’s a Lions-influencing swing vote. Even if it’s the fringest of fringe contenders going toe-to-toe, the Lions will get a mention.

However, once in a while you do get one of these head-to-head match-ups between legitimate title challengers, and such was the case the other night when Ulster hooker Rory Best [62 Irish caps] went head-to-head with Northampton’s Dylan Hartley [42 English caps]. There was only one winner.

You Fairly Ruffled My Savoir Faire There Dean, My Good Man

Not even Hartley’s best mate could make a claim for him avoiding embarrassment, never mind achieving parity. With Northampton 6-20 down and fifteen minutes left on the clock, the Saints hooker let his frustration get the better of him – frustration that his side hadn’t performed in a make-or-break European game, frustration that they were getting badly beaten and manhandled in front of a big home crowd, and frustration that his opposition number had him in his pocket. An innocuous post-tackle tangle on the deck turned nasty when Hartley landed a couple of unprovoked elbows to the face of Best who, in yet another testimony to his toughness, was remarkably unphased by the whole schemozzle.

Hartley’s cheapshots are hardly news at this stage of his career – ask Sir Rutchie – but it does once again throw the spotlight on a player who, at the very sharp end of the game, isn’t up to it mentally.

We previously compared him very unfavourably to Steve ‘Thomo’ Thompson and f*ck it [polishes fingernails on lapel] we were absolutely spot on then … and remain so now. Modesty shmodesty! In that great phrase of “Callous” Mark Calaway*, he’s “phony tough”. When the going gets tough, Dylan Hartley doesn’t get going; nah, instead he cracks mentally and either goes into his shell or does something that a coherent person knows is only going to hurt his team.

To paraphrase the great Billy Joel [The MOR Springsteen It’s Not Cool To Like © as we call him in Mole Towers], I’m sure he has some cosmic rationale, but he cannot handle PREHSHAAAHHH.

Dig that Joel. Pointed, but smooooove.

* ‘Callous’ Mark Calaway was the first ring-name of the WWF/E’s The Undertaker 

15 thoughts on “LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS [Little Bit Of Time For Actually Talking About The Match That’s Currently On] LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS etc.

  1. This is my favourite set of references yet: South Park, Lion King, Billy Joel, The Committments all topped off with a load of Dylan Hartley bashing.

    Also note Sky’s cricket coverage is top notch, if you can handle Beefy moaning about absolutely everything.

  2. Another good read mole, Sky generally do provide good coverage and punditry however their soccer punditry is so bad its almost good. “The best way to catch the tiger is not always necessarily to shout at it”…Gary Neville.

    • To be fair, Gary Neville is the only coherent football pundit on Sky Sports, the odd malapropism aside. He actually talks about the game from a players perspective and is remarkably unbiased, rather than just like some jobsworth stringing cliches together until his bit to camera is over.

  3. “…the ground floor is awash with bolters”. Wonderful….that is why I keep coming back 🙂
    Completely agree about Hartley, and your piece on Thomo described it perfectly. I thought he’d grow past it, but it seems he’s still a flat-track bully, stand up to him and he folds. In Joe Frazier’s immortal words “now you’re getting found out under the bright lights”.
    On a separate note, Northampton seem to have taken that characteristic on as a team. Jim Mallinder was a hot favorite for the England job a couple of years ago, he must be wondering what the hell happened.

  4. Anyone else completely disinterested in the Lions? After the last 2 tours, if this tour is a one sided slog as well, then its time to let this thing die. Just a cash cow at this stage, time for fans to stop being fleeced by this myth which seems to be, with a couple of exceptions, the northern hemisphere queuing up joyously to be roughly rogered by the southern hemisphere. At this stage its just boring.

    • The main problem I have with the Lions is that it knackers our players. Anyone done any research on how often France have got a grand slam in the six nations after a Lions tour? Also having them on the season after a world cup is kind of daft as it means two super long seasons for the players involved. I’d be worried that it’d finish off players who are at the end of their careers too. That said it is great craic and the speculation/banter is gas. After the world cup last year their was loads of ‘definite Lions tourist’ going on. Daft.

    • Yeah fairly fed up myself. I’ll watch the games as I’m a total addict/hypocrite but I couldnt give a jot for the build up. And will be putting money on them to lose the series cos let’s face it, their record is terrible.

  5. Love how unfazed Best was by the whole thing – he just looks at the assistant ref as if to say “you get him to stop it or I will”.

    Ulster looked so cool under pressure last week – even when Afoa comes in, he just drags Hartley away without any real retaliation – that seems to be the difference with Ulster this year, they have developed some top end smarts and their big boys are really fronting up.

    • Lot of leaders in the pack in Best, Muller and Henry. Colin Meads’ autobiography is a book we go back to time and time again in Mole Towers, and he talks about all the provincial captains in the great All Blacks pack of the 1960s as being crucial to their success.

      They have it all really – three World Cup-winners in Muller, Pienaar and Afoa, Lions-class players in Best, Ferris and Bowe, shit-hot nippers in Henderson, Jackson and Gilroy, some very experienced [200+ first class games] players in key decision-making positions in Roger Wilson @ No8 and Paddy Wallace @No12 and then a special attacking talent in Payne.

      They’ve a great age profile, good depth and buckets of confidence. Difficult to fault them.

  6. I’ve long been a critic of Hartley, but prior to his most recent injury he was in sublime form. He’s just a different sort of player to Best, so I’m not sure the comparison is entirely appropriate.

    I think the toughness comment is off the mark too. Look how he stepped up to the mark against the Boks in the summer, for example.

    As an aside, I was thinking how rugby is such a fickle beast: Last weekend Leinster were very unfortunate to lose in Clermont, Ulster smashed the Saints, Connacht beat Biarritz and Munster won (albeit not massively convincingly) against Sarries. This weekend has seen a total reversal with Leinster and Munster looking unlikely to qualify. It’s going to be an interesting Heineken Cup this season!

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