Allow me, if you will, to jump into the future and give you a taste of what my blog might read like in about six years’ time…
…and overall it was a mesmerising display from Sexton – he had the French at his mercy on the day, running his back line like finely-tuned machine for the entire match, and clearly was the man of the match in the 52-0 drubbing which sealed the Seven Nations Championship for Ireland.
When asked afterwards what inspired him to this level of world domination, he told reporters that it was the invaluable experience he gained playing for Leinster against Munster way back in 2008 that surely did the trick…
Only something like that happening years down the line would make last night’s match easier to swallow. In the meantime, it will stick in my throat.
Yet AGAIN, I will state that the reason I buy a season ticket for Leinster rugby is that I expect them to field the best available team for the night. With Nacewa unable to play No 10, the obvious move for such a big game would have been to switch Contepomi to out-half, bring someone like Horgan into the centre to partner O’Driscoll, and give Rob Kearney a full 80 minutes out on the wing.
But noooooo…we have to DEVELOP young Sexton, don’t we. So he gets a full match which means Kearney gets brought on as an impact sub too late, and besides, the young fly-half’s ineffectiveness was so deep rooted at that stage that nothing really seemed like getting started anyway.
We never, ever, ever looked like crossing the line last night. Sure, Felipe missed three kicks early on which would have possibly given us a momentum of sorts, but even though this was a better quality opposition than we had seen at the RDS before now, the free-flowing champagne rugby was nowhere to be seen for the night, and even the most naïve follower could spot that it came from the number 10 shirt.
Now let’s be clear – I don’t blame Sexton personally for last night’s result, I just don’t agree that he should have been anywhere but on the bench when we had such accomplished players in the squad to lead the line.
And of course, there was some of the “sour grapes” incidents. Mafi and Howlett between them got away with at least three high tackles on the night, and right before the first try which effectively settled the contest, new boy van der Linde was clearly obstructed (effectively a “block” as in American football and thus illegal) as he tried to make a tackle. Yet the Irish ref saw nothing.
One thing I will say is that the score does the game little justice. The half-time 3-0 tally would have been more appropriate.
But congratulations to the Munster boys. The occasion itself was a great one, with a full house and a tense contest for most of the match.
I just hope against hope that this selection policy only remains the same for the Meaningless League and that the boys get to take a back seat to let the men face the Heineken Cup challenge in a couple of weeks.