Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Billy on the Box: Ireland dressed but fail to impress again

A new season but the same old fashion for losing would be the best way to sum up Ireland’s egg-chasers’ return to the international rugby scene.

After a summer of discontent where the boys in green got a helluva beating from the All Blacks the only thing that we could be confident of was that things could only get better — D:Ream on.

There’s a lot of psychology in rugger these days and so to try and confuse the visiting Springboks some bright spark decided to dress Ireland in black and hey presto they’d begin to play like New Zealand.

This did not go down well in all camps, particularly RTE’s resident fashionista George Hook, a man who is less Gok Wan and more Gok Thran, after presenter Tom McGurk, as is his wont, lobbed in a casual hand grenade about Ireland’s new natty number and ran away cackling.

“Call me an old curmudgeon if you will,” he began, as thousands of viewers nodded and commented that they already had, on numerous occasions, and you knew that it was going to a proper gurn.

“This is more commercialisation of the game. Why are we playing in black; we’re playing in black because some commercial enterprise said ‘I can make a fortune from selling these shirts to George Hook’s grandchildren.’”

Over on BBC, Gabby Logan was all legs, teeth and hair as usual but it was the footwear on show that had the eager couturiers amongst us sitting up and taking notice.

At the end of Gabby’s long Inspector |Gadget-like limbs were perched two killer heels, in elephant grey, while studio guest, Brian O’Driscoll, had a boot on that Dumbo could have slipped into comfortably.

It was there for protection as his busted leg meant he could limp onto the Beeb’s coverage to join old sparring partner, Keith Wood, whose tootsies were hidden by a table so we’ll never know if he was wearing brogues, sling backs or Moses sandals.

The latter would certainly be no use to Ruan Pienaar here in the sodden north, as BOD turned into Cecilia Daly for a moment.

“I have to say I was one who might have questioned him coming over knowing what the weather situation in Belfast can be like,” he said, casually pulling his Bermuda shorts out of his boot as the Saharan conditions around Dublin 4 continued.

It was Gabby who was to go all red though at half-time after JP Pietersen, or JCB as he’s now known after his flattening of Chris Henry |(pictured), prompted expert analysis from Kenny Logan’s missus. He’s done nothing of note since Footloose, to be honest.

“Do players hate to see that sort of tactic employed out there?,” she asked to blank looks.

“I don’t think that’s a tactic, it was just a stupid thing to do,” replied Wood, and BOD, slapping on some sunscreen just in case, agreed that it was a ‘stupid error’.

Instead of letting it go, Gabby hit back with a strong argument along the lines of ‘err, he, emmm, he obviously did it intentionally, didn’t he?’ but no amount of fluttering eyelids could save her.

“Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know,” replied Wood dismissively although with a strange hint of Mavis Riley in his voice.

A scoreless second period for the home team, and a Pienaar-inspired South African comeback settled matters, but fear not, it’s Fiji up next and they should be able to win that barefoot and wearing tutus.

However, another hue was the predominant colour in the WTP finals as Novak Djokovic got the better of Roger Federer at the O2.

But even more annoying than the blue court that resembles a crime scene from a Smurfs massacre, is the attention given to Pippa Middleton who was spotted in the crowd by Peter Fleming and was then on endlessly.

Be afraid though, Pippa — Boris Becker has his eyes on you.

“Peter, joining the list of Pippa Middleton fans, clearly,” pointed out commentator Mark Petchey.

“Nothing wrong with that, it grows bigger by the day,” retorted the German great, unwittingly auditioning for the lead role in ‘Carry on Boris’ that everyone thought Mr Johnson was a cert for.

Then again what do you expect if there’s a fair sprinkling of Totti, although Francesco looked a little confused when a strange man offered to show him into a cupboard.

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