Shoulder to shoulder

21 September 2007

I am not, in general, an overly optimistic person. Especially where Irish sport is concerned. Hopeful, always, but confident that we’ll win? Rarely.

And this isn’t a new thing. Back in the heady days of Italia ’90 when the entire country was caught up in football-fever I can remember being asked if I though we’d win our next match. Against Italy. I answered confidently, telling my uncle that we hadn’t a hope. My mathematical prowess tells me that for the world cup in 1990 I was all of 11. Eleven years of age and already I was a cynical little git who knew we couldn’t win.

And yet for some reason I have a good feeling about tonight’s match. I may be proven wrong. France may run riot. Eoin Reddan may have a mare of a game. Ronan O’Gara may continue with the terrible kicks. The pack may continue to stand around waving their hands in the air instead of getting stuck into rucks. But if that happens I will simply accept the slagging at my optimism, because I’m confident that the Irish team has enough talent to win this match. I’m not predicting a bonus point win, although that would be nice, but I think we’ll “get it done”.

I may deluded and crazy. Given the recent performances there is no real reason to forecast an Irish victory. And France need to win. If they lose they are out. If we lose there is still the vaguest of chances we can progress, depending on our Argentina match. But for the hosts, for France! to go out at the pool stage. Well, there are upsets and then there are upsets.

Wouldn’t it be nice though?

Maybe it is because I’ve gotten used to the rugby crowd performing well, and even winning major competitions. And maybe it is misplaced because we can only judge ourselves against the other Six Nations teams. But for once, I’m remaining hopeful. I remaining positive. I may be deluded and irrational but isn’t that what sport is all about?

And any supporters in France are being asked to head down to the team hotel (Sofitel Porte de Sevres, 8-12 Rue Louis Armand, 75015, Paris) and show your support before they leave for the stadium.

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