So we didn’t win. We lost. To Wales. And if we had to lose to anyone, I am glad it was to them, even if Wales coach Warren Gatland isn’t on my Christmas card list. It was an exciting game though, one that had me standing on the rungs of my stool reaching for the ceiling, willing the lads on. I was roaring like a fishwife on Moore Street, and wondering why Sexton and the boys weren’t listening to me.
But we didn’t do it. Our coach Joe Schmidt says we’ve no one to blame but ourselves. He thinks we ‘let ourselves down a little bit’. I think that it’s not the first time. When we’re favourites, when we’re expected to win, to deliver, we fall short. It’s happened before and it will no doubt happen again.
There’s simply something in our psyche that kicks in when it comes to delivering on expectations. As the country’s armchair critics dissect the game and list the many things they’d have done had they been on the pitch or in charge, Irish around the world are wallowing in a sea of disappointment. So confident 48 hours ago, today we’re all a tad shaken and probably a little hungover.
We’re not out of the championship – Scotland did their bit to keep England from doing more damage than it did and if we beat the Scots well at Murrayfield next week, points could decide it all. But the Grand Slam is gone and the Triple Crown is gone. And with them our hope for glory.
But as was pointed out to me, last night, as I sat nursing my fröccs on the brink of tears, did we really want to go into the World Cup unbeaten and victorious? What might that have done for us, given that we’re so pathetically bad at living up to the hype? Perhaps Wales did us a good turn with their wall-like defence. Perhaps this isn’t as bad as it could be. Perhaps this is actually the better result – the battle we had to lose to win the war. Only time will tell.
This week, after a busy week and a rollercoaster weekend, I’m grateful that I got to experience the highs and the lows in the company of good friends – Welsh, Hungarian, Irish, English, and Scottish. I’m grateful, too, that we’re all still talking to each other. We are, aren’t we?