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