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Four Losses (but not quite a funeral)!
A brief run-down of the matches over the Christmas period. It started with so much hope but sadly went quickly south and stayed there. An unexpected bonus lifted the gloom slightly. Will it be a Happy New Year?
The Good Bits, the Bad Bits and a Couple of Ugly Bits
I am now living in Spain and since I moved away from England, initially to N.Ireland, my attendance at London Irish games has been sporadic. Then this year a chance presented itself to do my first away trip for 15 years. "France is next door to Spain so a trip there will be dead easy". How wrong I was as the French trade unions had other ideas.
"Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride"
After arriving at Ashton Gate I decided to check on the odds for the game and see what the great pundits had in store for us this week. Sure enough, Bristol were giving 13 points to us and an Exiles win was paying 5-1 with a draw at 20-1. After a very strange game against the French, there was something in my water saying that we would be up for this and the chaps at betting shops were in for a rough ride.
Crazy? Yes, Entertaining? Definitely
This was my fourth viewing of the boys in green in the flesh this season and the first this season I’ve actually witnessed them running onto the field. This was due to complicated reasons I won’t go into (overindulgence). I wasn’t expecting to see much actual open rugby, due to the drizzling cold November rain with bleak overcast skies, reminiscent of the shocking performance in the premiership game at home to Sale Sharks I’d previously witnessed.
The Stuff of Dreams
In a rugby season there are moments that, in hindsight, are pivotal and there are moments that feel the same in advance. Leicester Tigers' visit to the Madejski Stadium felt like one of these in London Irish's 2019 season.
A Harsh Lesson Hopefully Learned
Early Saturday morning, I awoke with a sense of dread, not for the game I’d be watching in the afternoon, Irish had started the season well, with a win away from home the previous weekend, Irish were at home to a team they had narrowly lost to the week before the Premiership started. The trepidation in my heart was for game I was about to watch in the morning, I wrongly thought England were going to be roundly beaten.
Great Sporting Battles
We're back to the proper rugby - the Gallagher Premiership restarted this week after the warm-up of the Premiership Cup fizzled to the end of it's pool stages. There are no easy games in the GP, London Irish had a trip to the Ricoh to visit Wasps to open their account. In previous years this would be a nailed-on loss but with the RWC and Wasps' off-field issues they are a reduced force from their glory days. While no-one expected a win there was the possibility we might pick-up a bonus point or two.
Inaccurate and Inarticulate Report
Saturday was my first attendance of the new season and because of this, I might have got a bit over zealous in the brown bottle shop, with the pre-match refreshments, so some of the report may be as squint as most throw-ins in professional rugby but not as crooked as the scrum put-in.
The Long Good-bye
So the curtain came up on the final season of London Irish’s 20 year tenure at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, when local rivals Harlequins visited for the second round of the Premiership Cup.
I Have a Ticket!
So it’s the start of the rugby season and in the not too distant future my son is getting married. Out of the blue, I get a call from the stag organisers saying the plan is to spend the weekend in Bristol and travel up to Gloucester on the Saturday for the London Irish game. Would I like to come?