In Greek mythology, Sisyphus, being punished for his deceitfulness, was compelled to roll a boulder uphill for eternity only to watch the rock slide down the slope every time he reached the summit. If you want to similarly creatively chasten an Irish person, you could arrange that they must watch the frantic denouement to Ireland’s 2014 Six Nation’s campaign over and over without ever getting the relief of Steve Walsh’s final whistle.
It’s one of the oddities of sport that high stakes occasions like the one we saw on Saturday in Paris (for the invested viewer anyway) is probably one of the least enjoyable experiences there is. The wait while Walsh tried to find any reason to allow France’s late score in the corner was particularly tortuous. Nerves ruin the experience of actually watching the contest. With that much on the line, it’s all about the pay-off once the right result is secured.
Having effectively been swept under the carpet since the conception of the professional game, the theme of concussion is beginning to appear more frequently in rugby headlines. Although it has been a problem for a long time, its effects and the frequency with which players suffer from its symptoms have only come under the spotlight in recent months.
The intensity felt as the final came to a close was present before it began, as the French team formed a V shape and marched forward together to face off metres from the All Blacks mid-haka. The crowd counted down from ten, the bullfight fanfare sounded, ball kicked high up in the air, crowd roared. The last leg of a long six weeks was underway for these teams.
Early on Yachvili kicked the ball out on the full, New Zealand’s lineout misjudged and France regained possession. This was not the last time the French pack would turn an All Black lineout. However this was one of the two areas France showed consistency, the other being conceding penalties, giving away two in the first five minutes. They managed to get off lightly enough with Weepu sending his first attempt wide.