I realised this morning that something has gone wrong with Irish Rugby. The national team is in the doldrums, two bad performances and the toughest games yet to come. Written off by everyone, myself included. Castigated, abused, insulted. I was as guilty as everyone else, bitching and complaining about their poor performances. It was this morning as I read the news and blogs from the weekend that I realised what a large part of the problem is. I wouldnt play for this shower of begrudgers either.
What does it take for the Irish team to win? Ronan O'Gara summed it up back in 2006 when Munster won the Heineken Cup.
"Once the screen went to Limerick there was no way we were going to be beaten in our third final. That was an incredible boost to us"
They need to play for the fans but they dont seem to have many fans this morning. I'm wearing my Irish Jersey this morning and everyone is asking me "Are you not embarassed to wear that?". My answer was, "No! This is the jersey from when they played well".
They dont have a flag or an anthem, the cross border nature of the team robbed them of anything real apart from a made up flag and a song only the composer would find inspiring before the match of a lifetime. All they had were the fans back home and we turned our backs on them when they needed another shot of a sea of red on O'Connel Street in Limerick.
They are fighting and they are winning. They may not be playing well but they are still out there getting kicked and punched, bitten and gouged, slammed into the ground and thrown into the air. All to win a ball, win a few yards and win a match. So what if they dont win by a cricket score, we should go support the cricket team if thats what we want to see. This is our national rugby team and we should be proud they are in the World Cup. I'm changing answer to the earlier question to a simple "No!". I'm not embarassed. I'm an Irish supporter. I may have forgotten my way for a while but I'm still a supporter. So I'll wear my old jersey today, my new jersey on Friday for the French match and my Munster Jerseys in between, how many others will join me?