Monday 21 March 2011

So how exactly did England win the Championship if Ireland won the victory?

Just as the English can take victory and turn it into miserable defeat, so the Irish take defeat and cheer with the song of a thousand victories.

Ireland didn’t just beat England in the rugby at the weekend. The Irish slaughtered them, and having just beaten the old enemy in the Cricket World Cup, and what with it being Paddy’s Weekend, and the game in Dublin and did I mention the old enemy, I did did I, oh so now so now so well, it just couldn’t have been any better.

The English departed heads down, demoralised and bedraggled, while the Irish went bananas nationwide for several days. Everywhere the talk was of how if only they’d played like that in every game, they might have won the Six Nations Championship, or maybe the Triple Crown, or maybe even the Grand Slam, where your country wins all five games in this France, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy mini league.

Before this year’s Six Nations, I contacted an Irish friend up in Killala. As a true Ireland and Munster through-and-through rugby fan, what did he hope would be at stake on the last day of the tournament, when the English would travel to Dublin?

‘An Irish Grand Slam. Why not?’ came his reply.

So the Irish pulverised the English and won the day, but the English won the Six Nations Championship. Indeed, they won it from such a strong position that it didn’t even matter that they were marmalised by Ireland on the last day of the competition. England won the Championship yet they left Dublin dejected losers, because they’d believed the hype, and dreamed only of the Grand Slam.

There exists still a small arcane part of the English cortex that believes that anything less than winning the Six Nations is disastrous, what with us giving the game to the world donchaknow blah Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran blah blah.

An arrogance lingers that winning the thing is barely enough. To revel in glory, England must do it in style, with supremacy intact.  Bliss belonged to the Irish, who won nothing but the game. They savoured every bloodstained sweaty second of their team’s splendid display.

Irish thinking has moved on a great deal in the 20 years since I arrived here. They’ve cut the first snips of the chord that bind Church and State in a social context. Irish society has experienced affluence for a while and there are at last non-white faces on the streets of Galway. Yet still, there is nothing that puts a smile on the faces of my hosts like getting one over their historical oppressors.


Paz said...

:D, on the cricket anyone who has watched the Bulmers/Magniers advert on TV would not have been surprised with the win.
Agree tho' nothing puts a smile on an Irishmans face as fast as when we have beaten the auld enemy, but its the same smile in Gaelic games when you beat the neighbouring parish in a charity over70 years game for a cup the size of a thimble.
agree about the Irish thinking, religion does not have the influence on social conscience these days...Thank god! ;)

Charlie Adley said...

I'd love to think you're right about the parish victory - may be a strong smile, but a different one from a different place! Thanks for the insight though!

Thank god for secular thinking indeed, but I used it only as a way to show how while some Irish thinking has become fundamentally more modern, one particular aspect of it remains stuck in the past.

Paz said...

Believe me about the neighbouring parishes I have seen friends and relations nearly killing each other to win a game.
Agree that there is a problem Irish people stuck politically in the past, I have English friends that has gotten abuse from Irish, but there is the same problem next door. If the English had done the same thing to the French the Daily Mail would have some have a witty headline about a French surrender above some breaking news about immigrant crime.
It was humourous 8 years ago when Martin Johnson slighted our President and the English won, the bulldog spirit, the we wont back down attitude that saw the Brits through the blitz. Imagine the headlines if did the same to Prince William, not to mention what the nuts up in Norn Iron would have done in retaliation.

Charlie Adley said...

First of all there's plenty wrong witih the English media, and i hope as a regular reader you know that I never talk up the English at the expense of the Irish - far from it!

And yes, I have seen that fierce parish rivalry, and in my work with young Travellers, have seen it applied to families too.

But i have to say, that whole supposed 'snubbing of the President' debacle by Martin Johnson that you mentioned only serves to prove my point about the irish and their attitude to the English. Every single well-read liberal modern-thinking Irish friend I have reckons it was deliberate, but I strongly disagree.

The sad truth is that to us, the English, it simply wouldn't be deemed worthwhile to diss your head of state. Yes they walked the wrong way onto the carpet. They screwed up the parade. But it's only the paranoia of the Irish and if you'll excuse me, a certain delusion of grandeur on the Irish part, to imagine that the English rugby team alongside their captain could be bothered to set about plotting to dishonour the Irish president.

Bovvered? They wouldn't be bovvered, mate.

But thanks for your insights as ever - very welcome feedback!

Paz said...

the good thing on life we dont all have to agree 100% to get along

Charlie Adley said...

Couldn't agree more! I'd be a terrible scribbler if I always stuck to the popular line!

Thankfully I'm happy to be perceived as wrong, because I may well indeed be wrong, as I often am. It's healthy to disagree sometimes. My perspective, shared between the place of my birth and my new home, will always differ from the contemporary Londoner and the rural Irish Townlands of today. My finger is on neither pulse, simply my own.

Charlie Adley said...

The Editor of an Irish newspaper who reads this colyoom kindly sent me this little gem from the English (not Irish!!) Daily Mail:

'After a week of Irish glory and glorification at Cheltenham and two very jolly days in Dublin to follow, many Englishmen would have felt the bond between our countries had become rather civilised these days.
So it came as something of a surprise to pick up the newspapers on Monday and discover what really inspired Ireland's Six Nations victory over England at the Aviva Stadium: hatred.
Andrew Trimble, the Ireland wing, let this slip, describing a rallying call from lock and most recent Lions captain Paul O'Connell prior to the game. 'I always love listening to him during England week,' Trimble said.

Irish eyes are smiling: Andrew Trimble celebrates... after beating England
'We wanted to get everything right technically, but we also wanted to use our physicality, our intensity, just a real hatred. We never get sick of beating England; that is why we enjoyed the win so much. There's a lot of history there.'
Indeed there is. Like the European Union's £73.7billion bailout for the failing Irish economy last November, that could end up costing British taxpayers in the region of £6.07bn.
Not many songs about that on Saturday, though, just the usual one about prison ships, prison walls and a terrible famine that took place 160 years ago yet is still thrown in the face of every visitor in an England shirt, as if it was cooked up in the Harlequins dressing room last Tuesday.
Maybe next time Martin Johnson visits he could give a rousing and equally relevant speech before the game based on vengeance for all the little kiddies abused by Ireland's paedophile priests.
Or is it only the English who have entries in the history books of which their modern descendants might be ashamed?

Paz said...

was going to get back to you sooner but was in up in Donegal and had no internet in the evenings.
I will concede partly due to your arguments ,I honestly thought we had grown up a little.
But when I was listening to locals talking I was shocked, yet the same hypocrites had no trouble crossing the border to get cheaper deals and were in church every evening.
"For men were born to pray and save, romantic Ireland's dead and gone"

Charlie Adley said...

Thanks for that Paz- ironically, having just returned from a wee trip back to my old village in north Mayo, I feel romantic Ireland is still alive and well. Not trying to be contrary for the sake of it - just happy to have seen it and enjoyed it again.

Great to have your opinions and feedback - much appeciated.