The punishment handed out to the Australian rugby players for going on the proverbial a few nights before the Ireland match didn’t fit the crime. It was far too severe!
Five of them were banned, but, interestingly, the ban didn’t come into effect until after the Aviva match. Maybe the management didn’t get to know about the night on the town, or wherever it was the lads had their skinful of Fosters or maybe Tamburlaine Sauvignon, until after the Ireland match; but had it been, say, England or France, and not Scotland, the Wallabies were due to play in their next outing, it’s doubtful if the boom would have been lowered with such ferocity, if at all.
The incident brought to mind the story Frank Lynch told on this page a number of weeks back. There were two Louth players whose normal Saturday night routine before a match, no matter how important, was to have a pint. It hadn’t prevented them from playing a starring role on the way to the 1957 All-Ireland final, so as plans for the game with Cork were being hatched, the lads were told to leave well enough alone. And they did. And Louth won. And so did Australia, less than a fortnight ago.
If Ireland were to carry the form shown against New Zealand into the Six-Nations you’d have to think there would be more than an outside chance of Joe Schmidt’s side making a bold bid for the title, or maybe even winning it. This is going to be a last hurrah for Brian O’Driscoll and possibly a few others, that man mountain, Paul O’Connell, among them, and there’s therefore sure to be lots of ‘let’s do it for the lads’.
The bookies have trimmed Ireland’s odds to top the table – from 11/2 to 9/2. But they are still only fourth favourites in the field of six. It’s 2/1 Wales and 5/2 each of two, England and France. Scotland are 33/1, and Italy the rags at 150/1.
There’s now such a thing as in-running betting, where money can be laid out on a horse or team when a contest is in progress. At one stage in last Sunday week’s match, the All-Blacks, raging hot favourites before the tip-off, could be backed at 8/1, while Ireland were on offer at 1/12. Tough for those who laid out their hard-earned on the home team at such prohibitive odds thinking it was money for jam.
Drink or no drink, the Aussies didn’t look too bad in their defeat of Wales on Saturday last. Though he didn’t score, that guy Nick Cummings is a joy to watch as he scythes his way through defences.