Belfast Telegraph

Below-par Dubliners are badly off tune in Champions Cup

By Billy Weir

There's nothing worse than a hefty kick aimed in the general direction of the prolate spheroids and such an unwelcome fate befell Leinster as the European Champions Cup got under way at the weekend.

Now that's the Heineken Cup to you and me, in the same way that it's still the Bass Irish Cup, the Smirnoff Irish League and the Magners League even though Guinness have taken over the latter, but whatever your tipple of choice, there was little to toast for the boys in blue on Sunday.

BT Sport carried out a two-pronged attack, an all-English presenting team back in Blighty in the control room, headed up by former copper Martin Bayfield, joined by Austin Healey and David Flatman, while in the Fair City, there was collusion aplenty as impartial interrogation was chucked out the window with Leinster legend Brian O'Driscoll and Wasps' (for the life of me I can't think of a noun beginning with 'w' to describe) Lawrence Dallaglio, carrying out pre-match interviews.

I have been somewhat critical of O'Driscoll's move from rugby great to presenting not so great. Any man who can make Michael Owen seem informed and interesting is to be viewed with suspicion but it was the material he was wearing rather than his uttering that was causing much mirth back in the studio.

"I think it was leather," began Healey, as we all feared just what had been going on while we were at the RDS.

"It was leather," agreed Bayfield, and we wondered just how big a bovine would have had to have been butchered to cover his six foot ten hide. "We have far more important things to talk about but that lapel was leather," he added, before the penny dropped that we were talking about BOD's new coat, a snazzy donkey jacket for a new generation, which Healey described as 'a binman's jacket.'

Of course this opens up easy opportunities to say that Leinster were rubbish and Wasps were about to swarm around them like, err, wasps around an open bin, but in the beginning things looked to be going according to plan.

"This is good stuff for the Dubliners, volume levels rising at the RDS," said commentator Alistair Eykyn, but with the game locked at six points apiece and delicately poised the mood and atmosphere was about to get a bit of a kicking.

A high ball hanging in the wind had Dave Kearney wandering around like a duck in thunder, forgetting that when it bounced that because it's all pointy it might do something funny, and it did, he fell over and Christian Wade gratefully ran in and touched down for a try Virginia Wade could have scored.

"The technical term for the shape of a rugby ball is a prolate spheroid and when it bounces it can sometimes go in a weird direction," Bayfield helpfully explained at the break in his best Johnny Ball impression (or is it Johnny Prolate-Spheroid?).

Either way, it sounded a bit rude, and Austin powered into overdrive, suggesting 'that's what my doctor said' and how his career had ended due to 'a prolapsed spheroid'.

It was no laughing matter for Leinster, and if the first period was bad, the second was horrendous, never mind Wasps scoring at will and home players falling like flies, or bluebottles, Eykyn was still insisting that they were called 'the Dubliners'.

They are not. The Dubliners are a diddly-dee band of some repute while Leinster is a mighty province of 12 counties, in the same way as Munster's demonym isn't the Limerickers or Ulster's the McCooeys.

"Austin, you're going to go all arts and crafts on us and draw some lines," said Bayfield as enquiries began into the beating that had been carried out in broad daylight by the English oppressors on the banks of the Liffey.

I think the Dubliners may have a song about this.

Healey proceeded to go crazy with an IPad and graphics aplenty, more arrows and lines than at the start of Dad's Army, as he tried to make sense of it all and given his childish sniggering earlier we are to be grateful, or disappointed, that he resisted the urge to draw anything resembling prolate spheroids on the screen.

"No bonus point then for the Dublin-based team' said Crimewatch's PC former PC Bayfield at the end, but at least he resisted the temptation to tell them 'don't have nightmares'.

Belfast Telegraph


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