Before every major event we get caught up in the madness of predictions. We follow speculation as if it were Gospel. We force ourselves to show blind faith, regardless of what common sense has been telling us for 3 years out of 4.
Suddenly people at the office you rarely speak to are talking to you about sport. That distant mate no one has seen for years is emailing you about fantasy leagues. You’re heading to the bookies when, normally, you’re that person that doesn’t buy a lottery ticket on Rollover day.
Let me set the scene for you: Scotland play 2 EMC Tests with 6 back-three options. They play one game against Ireland with S. Lamont, Paterson and Walker. Then they play against Italy with R. Lamont, Evans and Danielli. Then they take out Walker and send the rest off to New Zealand.
My question for you is: What should Scotland’s back-three be?
Uh-huh. Mmmm. Ok. Right. I see.
Well forget all that, I’m now going to ask a few ex-internationals instead because –no offence!- I’m pretty sure we would all love to hear what Scotland and Lions greats Ken Scotland and Andy Irvine have to say instead!
With rugby, as with all competitive sport, you see players have to deal with setbacks. Sometimes these setbacks can define a player’s career. Sometimes, just sometimes though, a player can define his career by using those setbacks as opportunities.
The key is setting goals and being realistic about what you can, and importantly, need to achieve.
So when Dundonian Alasdair Dickinson told me “The shoulder’s OK so far!” I couldn’t help but feel a little relief for him.
Despite the Scottish cessation of activity at the weekend there was still plenty of rugby being played. We saw Australia show how antiquated South Africa’s rugby may have become in just a few short years. We saw Wales expose England’s lack of skills throughout an entire XV. We saw the French recline and accept gifts from Ireland.
Watching these games will be invaluable to Scotland because they framed some obtrusive issues that many in sport -particularly in England- have danced around. These issues give us cause, not only to look at our future opponents, but to assess ourselves as well.
Insurance was invented because of this. Sports gambling is so exciting because of this. Being French is only comprehensible when you accept this and throw conventional thinking out of the window. Indeed nothing is harder to predict than French rugby.
So when I decided I was going to assess the preparation of our 6 Nations rivals I had to get the perplexing Gallic questions out of the way first. I had to consider the preposterous and the perplexing.
At the moment I am beset on all sides with the reality, the spin coming out of Murrayfield and probably some early onset moaning from supposed experts. I have purposely not read any newspapers this morning, but I have watched the game again, re-read some stuff that went out live during the game and have endeavoured to see most of the official comments. So let’s look at the coverage of Scotland 10-6 Ireland.
When I was much younger I remember being excited by watching the Scotland team play with its ‘exotic’ stars. I knew very little about the politics or any assumed insult to purists. All I knew was that the ‘Kilted Kiwis’ had a cool nickname and they all seemed to be that little bit sui generis.