Saturday, 23rd June 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Never fear, the Six Nations are here!

Slightly off topic this week. My other passion in life, apart from being a MAMIL, started on Saturday last - the RBS Six Nations. The annual rugby festival of our four Home Nations, France and Italy, all slugging it out to win the Grand Slam,

Championship or Triple Crown. So much at stake, great

sporting rivalries and a sense of camaraderie that defines this sport, on and off the field of play.

After a wet, cold, rainy and sleety cycle on Saturday morning I returned home, eventually warmed up, showered, a quick bite to eat and I switched on the old BBC to watch the pre-match build up. A match that would define both Scotland’s and Ireland’s Six Nations’ campaign. A loss for either side would mean an end to Grand Slam and Triple Crown hopes. There was so much at stake for both sides this would be a cracker of a game.

My family have learned, over many years, that it is best to leave Dad alone in the living room, to shout and scream obscenities at the television, when my beloved Scotland are playing rugby. This year would be different – so they said. But would the start to 2017 be any different to any other year?

We Scottish rugby fans, always start the Six Nations with enthusiasm and bucket loads of hope. Hope that this will be our year and maybe, we will get the bounce of that odd shaped ball and one or two refereeing decisions going our way. Because, when it comes to referees, we have had our fair share of many an odd whistlers’ errors.

It is the norm for all that enthusiasm to be extinguished after around 20 minutes of the first half, when we realise that once again this will not be our year. But last Saturday things appeared to be very different.

The singing of the National Anthem took on an extra edge. Vern Cotter off to pastures new and the players looking to have that steely stare of “This will be our day!” when traditionally singing, an out of tune Flower of Scotland.

So, at around 14:30, Mr Poite peeped his sifflet and we were off and mauling.

Now, in the past I would have watched the television and that would be it! But in this modern age of electrical gadgetry, in addition to the television being on, I had the laptop on, tablet on for social media, Facebooking and messaging, mobile on for texting and Vibering – multi-tasking at Olympic levels!

Come half time we were implausibly 21 points to 8 up! I had to pinch myself, as I have never seen us play so well in the first 40 minutes of a Six Nations’ match. There was a time when Scottish rugby tries were as rare as unicorn horns. Yet on this day we managed three in the first half of rugby!

The social media banter was ALL one way traffic and my Irish friends remained steadfastly quiet and subdued. But Mr Schmidt must have thrown a whole plethora of hair driers during his half time team talk. Ireland waltzed through the next 30 minutes. The social media lit up and the revenge slagging started in earnest.

Had I been too premature in calling this – a common Scottish rugby trait? I know that my blood pressure was reaching critical and that I could not shout any louder at the television. My wife, Oonagh, tells me that screaming at the television does not help. But I, like all true male sports fans, secretly know, that the boys can actually hear us!

As we drew ever nearer to the final whistle, having absorbed an Irish battering, there was “One chance, just one chance....” to win the game and kill the clock at the same time. Up stepped Captain Dependable. One final kick and it was all over. We’d won our first opening Six Nations match since 2006. Joy!

What made this win even more special, was the fact that our winning penalty kick went over the very posts where my Father’s ashes were actually scattered.


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