Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nothing but education...

Gloucester 3 - Munster (a whole province) 16

‘Twas a great occasion at Kingsholm Stadium yesterday. The hordes of Munster supporters added vibrancy and warmth to an already electric atmosphere; with the devaluing of the knockout cup and the watering down of the importance of league fixtures, there are less ‘big games’ these days but this match was mighty and of tangible importance. It felt like the ‘old days’ before kick-off. It was a shame that the city club underperformed in key areas but, generally, the fellows in cherry played with commitment and satisfactory enterprise. A day after the disappointment of defeat, my thoughts are more rational. Criticisms have been levelled at the club’s coaches for a perceived lack of strategy but yesterday the fifteen on the park had plenty of chances to take the spoils. Several missed penalty attempts helped the cause not one iota and try-scoring chances were spurned through a dropped pass here, stern Irish defence there. Frankly, it wasn’t Gloucester’s day but, with one or two exceptions, I feel quiet pride in the players. Hopefully the squad can pull a few decent results together and qualify for next term’s Heineken Cup; the impending visit of Saracens, a buoyant club now in the last four of the major European tourney, shall prove a test and a half for the city and a top four finish (required, in these eyes, for Heineken qualification rather than any end of season domestic loot-fest) may well depend on victory.

The Munster supporters were charming and gracious, garrulous and engaging. I warmed to those that I was fortunate enough to meet both in the ground and, later, in the snugs and smoking rooms of the famous city. I wish I could salute the home supporters so heartily. I felt obliged to apologise to one Munster fellow after the game on behalf of one oaf that I noted was far from welcoming to him during the match. When gentle people travel hundreds of miles to visit our community they deserve better than to be treated with aggression and boorishness. Some folk simply have no idea how to behave. This heart sank today too when encountering an online poll seeking views whether or not Chris Paterson deserves another chance in a cherry and white jersey. With ‘supporters’ like these, who needs opponents? My opinion on the subject is ‘Yes, yes, and thrice, yes’ but I shall not be offering the pollster my vote, thereby proffering credence to a nonsensical, ignorant and rank idea. Aren’t we supposed to get behind the team?


Anonymous said...

The bravura performances of the early pool rounds in the rains of Europe were not to be repeated. We have been unsettled since the festive break.

It was illuminating to see Sarries play as a committed and purposeful unit against the fish eagles (a nation). Man for man we have better players, but they face less calls to support various nations. DR needs to make us fire as a unit whatever mix is in the pot.

Two areas were I do agree wih the popular critique, Bortolami has faltered as Captain and player and the Volcano seems ill at ease. Paterson must be given a chance to redeem himself and repay the no doubt considerable investment.


Cole said...

Wise words sir. I agree re our Italian lock. The afternoons he spent on the paddock slapping backs and exhorting the troops seem long gone. It's been a 'funny old season' and I sense the World Cup didn't help. Oh, for a proper pre-season and a settled first XV.