Interesting little book review on the Irish Times website about the role of Cromwell in the disappearance of wolves in Ireland. Kieran Hickey’s book (possibly entitled The Natural and Cultural History of Wolves in Ireland—the article makes no reference) seems to confirm the role of Cromwell’s appearance in Ireland with the hunting and eventual extinction of the Irish wolf. I’m not aware of any attempts to reintroduce wolves to Ireland, and as this post on the Blather points out, there were fears that no one had learned from history, when policies in recent years called to cull badger numbers in the hopes of combating bovine tuberculosis.
Ireland may have been the land that saved western civilization, ((À la Thomas Cahill, How The Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.)) and certainly enjoyed a period of setting priests alongside agricultural products as the major export, but that’s not to say that nothing good came out of the experience. Their perhaps unique relationship with the Catholic church has put Irish comedians in a wonderful position, and combined with a deep love/hate relationship with the English, provides a rich source of material for us all to enjoy. Republicans, Catholics, Patriots, Atheists: here are some of my favourites of Ireland’s sons.
Three games in and this is looking to be one of the worse Six Nations competitions of recent years. Wales’ table position is rather flattering, and with France and Ireland yet to play the big games are still ahead for them. And once again Scotland will be vying for the wooden spoon with Italy. But all is not lost. England’s performances have provoked some of the finest examples of impartial commentating from the BBC, including this ‘special’ moment from Brian Moore.
Where else would you find a sign like this in a major airport? (Excuse the blur)
Ireland denied once again on points difference from their first Six Nations championship, and on St Patrick’s Day to boot, as France took the challenge set by Ireland in their 8 try victory over the Azzurri. With the unlikely Italian victory out of the picture, the French set to work against Scotland in Paris, with a target of 24 points. Although England playing in Cardiff would have a mathematical chance to clinch the title, a championship victory for them would be an incredible feat. The title was France’s to lose, and Scotland’s to deny.
A dramatic start to the day in the Stadio Flaminio as Ireland looked to stretch a big point victory over Italy to put France in a difficult position later in the day. Italy started well, kicking penalties and a drop goal, and despite conceding two tries looked to be in a decent position at 12-13 until a controversial try to Ireland in the dying minutes of the half put them 12-20 ahead. The second half, however, was a one horse race, as Ireland put try after try past the Italian defence. The game opened up considerably as the scoreboard racked up a considerable points difference for Ireland, but a last minute decision to continue after the clock went red left Italy in a position to score a generously awarded second try to claw back 7 points before the final whistle. The final score of 24-51 left France needing a victory margin of 24 points to claim the trophy.
Knowing what they had to do in Paris, the Scots ignited the game with an early try to put France on the back foot. From there France fully attacked the game, looking to be half way to their tally by half time, when Sean Lamont took a quick penalty to sprint for the line and spoil French hopes. Leading 20-14 going into the second half, France got the bit between their teeth and forced a 25 point lead with over 15 minutes to go. First half hero Lamont was bizarrely sin binned for an infraction by his younger brother Rory, and all looked to be going France’s way using all the strength, speed and skill they could muster. Yet a late try from the unlikely arms of Euan Murray put the championship just beyond France’s reach. As the BBC commentator put it:
“He’s got a five yard run in, and like every good tight-head prop, he’s now got cramp!”
Patterson’s failed conversion left France needing a try to win. The clock went red, the French pushed for the line, pushing on, penalty after penalty. With the ball over the line, the referee went to the television referee asking for any reason not to award the try—and who other than an Irishman to be occupying that position! The try awarded. France triumphant. Ireland beaten on points difference for the second year running.
Although Wales will play host to England shortly, the required margin for England (victory by 57 points) to claim the championship essentially confirms France’s championship.