With an almost spooky prescience, Pete seemed to figure straight away that my first sojourn in the French capital might begin with a liquid lunch. Just met a guy from Holywood with his family, all decked out in Green. Small world!! Given the team’s form, you have to clutch at whatever straws float past. This from Vincent Hogan in the Independent is good enough to be going on with:
As former international, Thomas Castaignede, observed yesterday: “It will be like a tsunami in French rugby if we lose!”
You can imagine the weight of fear pressing down on a whole nation here.
This tournament still has a month to run and, from Place Pablo Picasso all the way north to the Luxembourg Quarter, Paris is draped in World Cup bunting.
Lose and the unthinkable becomes reality — France will find itself over-dressed for someone else’s party.
Like I said, its a matter of whose knees buckle first. And it seems the French media is trying to get the boot in first. The Daily Telegraph predicts it will all end in tears. No harm to anyone, but I hope it’s not ours.
If you could timeshift players in their top form, Keith Wood would be top choice to lead the forwards. His key thoughts:
Eoin Reddan’s inclusion at scrum-half will offer some respite, as he snipes around the corner to keep back rows in check, but it is a big task for a player who has not started an international. He has, though, the benefit of a very even temperament. All the time he has spent on the bench and outside the squad has not affected his mindset. He never became embittered as time slipped by; instead he worked on his game to make certain he would be ready if the chance arrived. His strength of character should see him through. After that, it is to the plan that we have used to beat France in the past. Confrontation, confrontation, confrontation. If Ireland are in the game after 20 minutes we will have a very good chance. If we start poorly, we will be stuffed.
Tony Ward agrees, it is down to the Forwards to give Reddan the ball, and O’Gara’s unflustered detemination to slice the French defence and slot home the points.