Monday 18 December 2017

Keith Wood: A ludricrous, amazing day that we will never forget

Ireland's Ian Madigan (left) and Simon Zebo on arrival at Dublin Airport
Ireland's Ian Madigan (left) and Simon Zebo on arrival at Dublin Airport

What an amazingly ludicrous day.

Rugby has no business being this crazy. The moniker ‘Super Saturday’ always fills me with dread, an American ultra hyping of a sporting contest.

And yet this ‘Saturday’ surpassed any hyperbolae. It was quite frankly the most extraordinary day in Six Nations, even rugby history.

The eclipse on Friday had to have had some effect, or the equinox had added some level of lunar madness onto proceedings. Everything was tinged with a certain level of crazy and we were privileged to be there to witness it.

Wales were awesome taking every chance available. The target set by them must have altered the Irish mindset.

No longer were Ireland looking to win only, or with a little bit to spare. Instead they had something tangible to aim for, 21 points to make or break their season.

It was such an unlikely target that the shackles were immediately thrust off, no more conservatism. This was a team on a mission.

Edging to victory as they had on days past was no longer good enough. Ireland needed tries and the scoreboard ticking over. It was a style and purpose that screwed Scotland into the ground.

Any thoughts that they had that they could spoil the party were dashed early as they failed to live with Ireland’s pace and they promptly disintegrated.

The thought kept fleeting in, could Ireland play this unfettered way always? We could be irresistible if that were the case - we were like that on Saturday.

And surely this then was too much for England against France, 26 points difference needed? Ludicrous indeed and yet the ebb and flow of the most outrageous game of international touch kept us guessing until the final vomit-inducing moments.

I don’t know if I loved or despised France by the end but I’m definitely due a visit to the cardiologist.

But to be there at the end, with 10,000 Ireland fans still encased in Murrayfield is a memory to cherish.

Back-to-back championships, for the first time in 63 years, are days to tell the grandkids about. To recall the heroics, Seán O’Brien, two tries and countless carries of import, Jamie Heaslip magnificent fumble inducing, try saving tackle, to Paul O’Connell’s generally heroic performance.

It was a day when all stood up, all played a part. So much was going on it had a sense of the unreal.

And as each extraordinary action surpassed the previous, the day became a blur. There are many great images but one sticks in the mind.

As O’Connell finished his post match interview the cameras pan down...... to Paddy O’Connell (pictured) gazing up in awe at his giant father.

I think we all were, Paddy.

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