An Inconvenient Truth

Between March of 1948 and March of 2009, a lot of Irish Rugby supporters would have lived and died without ever seeing a Grand Slam. I am not being morbid, it is just an inconvenient truth, what is also a truth albeit a sobering one is I get to have two in my lifetime. I also get to live through the most successful period in Irish Rugby.

Ireland have three Championships in in five years, four in nine with two of them being Grand Slams. Still, I hear the media and supporters comment that this year it felt flat because it was a foregone conclusion.

Yes, I agree 2009 was magical and a summit for that group of players. One would think it also magical that Rob Kearney, who was on both teams and appears hungry for more success. Perhaps the most decorated Irish rugby player ever with 4 Championships, 2 Grand Slams and 3 European cups still wants more success. Not only does he want it, he truly believes it’s possible to win the World Cup. Statements like this shouldn’t flatten the occasion and the feeling of joy, it should enhance it.

Uncomfortable Favourites

Another bugbear for those who could not feel the same joy as 2009 was the nature of the victory. There is something embedded in the Irish D.N.A that makes us terribly uncomfortable being clear favourites. For years you saw us celebrate mediocrity in soccer and rugby. Footballers in 94 got a heroes welcome after getting a schooling in the second round by the Dutch and generally playing badly in the group.

In 2004 the Irish rugby fans let out a huge roar of joy for a triple crown after giving up a Grand Slam/Championship. Fans saw it as good enough to beat four teams in your yearly competition just as long as three of those four teams were the home nations. England wouldn’t accept that. Why should we? You may think I’m being harsh but there are players to this day that regret the celebrating they did.

The Right way to win

In 2009 each game was attritional in nature and most were one-score games. Results were eked out and our boys scraped victory, it was glorious warfare. Irish teams are supposed to win this way. People could accept the win against France. It was tough and we scraped it when I put it to friends that the result was never in doubt once we claimed the ball through a cheeky 22 dropout to Devin Toner they nearly laughed me out of the WhatsApp group. Ireland’s players showed too much poise to be denied.

Aside from the French game, all the games were over at half-time. The scoreline might not have suggested it but the style of play certainly did, as I said in my last article the atmosphere died in the Aviva at half-time in the Scotland match and there are reports of the same thing happening at Twickenham. Situations like these are indicative of the Irish psyche not trusting success. “A pat in the back is six inches from a kick in the ass”. This is an old Irish proverb which perfectly describes the Irish opinion of success. Enjoy it but prepare to fail.

Embedded Pessimism

Irish people are, by nature, pessimistic. Already there are people expecting an out of form Australia to beat us 3 to 0 in the summer. Fans should deeply disappointed and shocked if we didn’t win the series. Ireland’s current squad keeps winning and keeps making history. Why is a southern hemisphere series win so out of the question? I think it’s time we as a group of fans embrace victory like our team does. Let us not mistrust success, let us welcome it. Irish rugby cannot justify the underdog tag anymore so why should fans wear it.


Author: Donal Lucey

I’m born and raised in Mallow, a county town in Cork right at the centre of Munster I am into powerlifting and rugby. I played in the front row since I was 12, I’m happily married with one on the way, so looking for a new outlet that involves rugby.


  1. Donal,

    Don’t agree. Games against Scotland and Wales were both well balanced, and but for the level of skill, and the odd bounce of the ball could have gone the other way.

    This is what happened in France. Ireland were comfortable without getting the points. France get an undeserved try, and they think it’s all over!!!
    It was a lot tougher than you suggest.

  2. I’d be inclined to agree that all except the French game were pretty much over by half time. Even the French game would have been a travesty to lose as Ireland dominated throughout.
    I think the reason Irish fans were left feeling a bit flat is that the lat involvement of the championship was conceding a try to England, which regardless of the win is not something we naturally celebrate.


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