THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT
Privately Martin Johnson – Grumpy if a little bigger - was furious. The England players who tackled the dwarves, singing ‘swing low’ not ‘hi ho,’ clearly did not roll away.
What’s more a week later they repeated the offences – at the breakdown not the bar – against Georgia. The England squad is a great bunch of blokes, but they’ve got a Dopey and a Sleepy as well as a Hape.
Mike Tindall’s Stag do in Miami ahead of his wedding to Zara Phillips was referred to by one English newspaper as a ‘seven- hour drinking marathon’. That’s not a marathon; it’s barely the 400-metre Hurdles. A Buck’s weekend is one thing; professional sportsmen performing on the biggest stage of all, another.
It was meat, drink and royal jelly to the prurient press. If the News of the World had not closed, the infamous British tabloid would have had interviews with the dwarves - well seven of them anyway.
Nobody expects their players to be snow white – last dwarf gag for a while promise - but this was the height of idiocy, especially given Tindall’s wife is the Queen’s granddaughter.
Johnson got it wrong. Bungee jumping yes, for that is an adrenalin rush to enrich both body and soul. Relaxing over a few beers may be good for team bonding, but it is not the fuel of champions and in this all-seeing, all-judging age what goes on tour stays on CCTV.
Does Usain Bolt go for a barrel of rum between races at the Olympics? Actually scrub that. The Jamaican could drink the annual rum rations of the pirates of the Caribbean and still win at a stagger.
If anyone deserved to get epically drunk it was Ireland, a nation that has produced a few Olympic drinking champions down the years. The Irish forwards were immense against the Wallabies and I’m counting captain Brian O’Driscoll among them, as the centre could cut it as a Test seven.
We up north are now getting very excited as you big beast southerners could all end up on one side of the quarter-final draw. It’s like having Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in one half of the Wimbledon draw and Andy Murray in the other, except Murray doesn’t count in rugby terms, as he’s Scottish.
Whoops shouldn’t have said that. Scotland will now ruck England out of Eden Park.
Presumably if Wales had successfully appealed – if such a process existed - to have James Hook’s penalty re-instated, they would be regretting it now, as second in Pool D might be the best place to finish if Ireland has already produced its one big game.
Meanwhile France is doing its best to replicate its football team with its unique mixture of ennui and angst, not helped by Marc Lievremont being one croissant short of a continental breakfast.
I’m off to watch England get penalized against Romania. I hope the pub is not too crowded. I’m not very tall you see. Important to end on a low.