Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: The strife of Brian in quest for Holy Grail

One down, four to go, as the Six Nations burst back onto our screens on Saturday lunchtime with the game no-one gives a monkeys about — France v Italy.

This was merely the hors d’ouevre or antipasto, depending on which bunch of foreign interlopers you prefer, to the main dish of the day, and I’m not talking about Brian Moore here. Although I will be.

Before all that and with time to fill before we went to Paris, John Inverdale kicked things off in a scrapyard full of TVs. Any cheap comments or smirking about similarities to BBC Sport will not be entertained at this point.

“Out with the old and in with the new, some things will never be the same again,” middle-aged Inversoft told us and he wasn’t joking. Have you seen the new BBC website? It looks like someone has taken a chainsaw to a beehive.

“The World Cup came and went, rather more quickly than most of us would have liked,” he added. Are you having a laugh? Quickly? There are some countries in the Middle East who changed regimes three times in the time it took for the Webb Ellis Trophy to go where it was always going.

The drizzle of Dunedin had been replaced by brass monkey time in Paris and up in Edinburgh it was none-too toasty either but as John told us ‘it’s a good job the Czech Republic aren’t in the Six Nations because it’s -36 there.’ Only a matter of time.

Forget global warming, it was a warming of the ears that was the order of the day as Moore joined the happy and cosy band in the studio for a discussion on England. Have we forgotten France and Italy? Thought so.

“How did England get themselves into the mess they did,” asked John, as he left down the pointy stick he prodded Moore with.

“Because a few of them were half-witted idiots, it’s as simple as that,” he hinted, before going on to question people’s sanity and then winding up Scots (as if he had to speak to do that) talking about English coach Stuart Lancaster’s Caledonian heritage.

“I told him they were going to dig into his background and they were going to find this and it’ll be embarrassing. It would be better to be caught in a brothel.” Or he may have said Ahoghill, I’m not sure.

We quickly moved on, to Paris, and more inappropriate behaviour, this time from Inversoft talking about Gabby Logan. “I’m looking forward to seeing how many layers of clothing she’s wearing there,” he mused.

Stop quickly, you’re only a step or two away from Richard Keys and we know what happened there.

Off to Paris and Gabby appeared with a wild and hairy thing on her coat — not Keys — but a collar that would have kept Bill Oddie sitting outside for weeks.

It was cold and France won, that’s all that needs to be said, and Inversoft promised us that the Calcutta Cup would be a ‘spectacle to warm up the evening’. 6-3 at half-time, Mr Magoo had better spectacles.

There was time for a snigger as commentator Andrew Cotter said there was ‘an ugly sound from Murrayfield’ but it wasn’t Brian rather the booing of any English kick, while later saying ‘Andy Robinson is prowling inside his cage like a tortured beast’. It wasn’t clarified whether he was joined by Gabby’s collar at this point.

And talking of being collared, the main talking points from the third helping of Six Nations became more like Crimewatch with more spears flying about than a Fatima Whitbread tribute act.

“Yesterday was the aperitif for the main course, this is what the Six Nations is all about,” Inversoft told us. So what was all that rubbish the day before then?

More unpalatable shouting when Jonny Sexton was about to kick, although that was later traced to a man answering to the name of Rog, although after all the shouting, it was Wales who sang the loudest.

“A truly phenomenal advertisement for the game,” said Keith Wood, just about thawed from Paris and he was right. Even George Hook would have enjoyed it. Or maybe not.

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