Sometimes the best experiences in life are born from spontaneous actions, so there I was minding my own business when I got a message asking if I was busy on the next day, Saturday. I replied that actually Saturday was actually looking relaxed, so I was open to offers. Then came the offer, how would I fancy popping down to Twickenham to watch England play Ireland in a game that could either allow England to retain some pride by beating Ireland in the heart of England’s rugby fortress where they had remained unbeaten by Ireland since 2010,that is an amazing 8 year gap. Or, history could be made and Ireland could beat England and remain glorious and unbeaten.
My friend who I travelled down to the game with is Irish born and bred, and a proud Dubliner to boo., We had both been following the fortunes of our respective teams, which had witnessed an England team lose momentum and direction game after game, whereas Ireland have been gathering in confidence and stature with each match. It had all the hallmarks of being a magnificent game between these great rivals.
And of course it was a special day for all Irish people all over the world, but especially for those native Irish men and women who call Ireland home, not to mention the tens of millions of people who claim descent from Emerald Isle which is 30% of the population of the USA, not to mention the rest of the world. So, as you can imagine anyone who was Irish, was mad keen to be at the most historic game for years, if not decades. And of course it had to be on Saint Patrick’s day March 17th so if ever the luck of the Irish was going to make magic happen then it was going to be on this day.
A very easy journey although the weather was truly appalling as the beast from the East for the second time in as many weeks brought chaos to parts of the UK. However, the mighty steed that is the Tesla model X, made easy work of the challenging snow and a well earned pit stop was made at the Hilton Hotel in Heathrow where the car was charged and a fine post match feast was enjoyed while watching Scotland take on Italy on the lounge large screen TV. Then off to pick up the tickets before parking on the drive of someone who lived literally next to the hallowed turf that is Twickenham. In truth we could not have parked closer. And all because of a very clever app that allows residents who live next to major sporting venues to lend out their drive for the duration of the match. Whoever thought up that genius idea deserves a medal as it is a complete win-win all round.
A five minute stroll into the South side entrance where we had brilliant seats pretty close to the pitch where you could see everything. The atmosphere in the ground was incredible as the anthems were sung it was as emotionally charged as it gets, and the beauty is that everyone was mixed in together. English and Irish were literally side by side snuggled up together mostly to avoid hypothermia as the driving snow and fierce wind straight from the arctic cut through everyone.
When the game kicked off within 5 minutes it was apparent that Ireland had both the luck and desire to make the match theirs, the first try was the combination of a mistake from one of England’s back’s, and the tenacity of the man of the match Jacob Stockdale he was simply magnificent scoring a record breaking 7 tries in the four games, clearly a young man with a future. By half time it was almost all over, as more mistakes from England and ferocious and tenacious play by Ireland saw them leading by a decent margin.
A cheeky pint of Guinness at half time helped revive the spirit with an expectation that England would come out of the blocks fighting and that they did, but by now the wheels were starting to come off the England chariot, it was not so much swinging low as it was grinding to a shuddering halt. And even with the consolation of a last minute try by England, the party was over. Ireland the rightful and deserving winners of the six nations. I watched as one of the few remaining Englishmen as the boys in green were crowned as the winners, and the observed them take their hard earned lap of honour to the tune of who else but U2’s “Beautiful Day”, not in terms of the weather but if you were Irish. This was one of those moments in life where you can look back and say, yes I was there, did I mention by the way that my grandmother was Irish?