Well the end has come dear readers, the 2010 Six Nations is over and all that remains is to count the points in our fantasy league and declare that I did not in fact, win.
I won’t lie and say I’m not disappointed – I am. I had a vision, you see: a vision of rubbing victory in the faces of all the boys in the Observer office. Yes I am that person, and what of it?
It doesn’t really matter any more, as I said I didn’t win, nor did I come second, or third for that matter. The Big Gay Beards and I ended the Six Nations in fourth because as I suspected, Paul Fenno-sneak steamrolled over us into third spot. The last day was a triumph of points for most people except my Beards and the long-suffering Ballerinas. Stephen Jones was the undoing of Woods’s attempt to end the tournament in poll position and managed to give Chambers’s Stuart’s Barns quite a hefty margin in the end.
So the Dara O Briain Memorial Cup wont be coming home with me, even though I paid for it. I’m not bitter, just sad. Not only did the Big Gay Beards fall away at the end, but there’s no more rugby for a whole year and I have to put my hand on my heart and say – I’m really going to miss it.
I learned a lot more than I let on to be honest, I’m just a little wary of looking the fool if I get something wrong so I’ve been keeping my cards close to my chest so to speak. In my quest for justice for Toby the Tiger, I think I learned more about English rugby than any other country, and than I ever needed to know really.
Knowing as much as I thought I did about England, it was quite the surprise when they scored a try in the first five minutes in Paris. I like to think it was down to their choice of fly-half, but I think he was only part of the resurgence (a big part maybe). Otherwise France-England was a bit of a letdown on the fantasy points, only that one try and a couple of kicks, but by that stage my Beards were just playing for the privilege of wearing the shirt. It’s a really nice shirt incidentally, there would have been suitably themed ribbons on the cup had we won but now no one will ever know.
Wales were, as I had long suspected the would be, the final nail in the Beards’ coffin. If James Hook was an inspired choice by Stade Ballet, then Stephen Jones was an absolute gem for Chambers and Fenno. I must confess that I watched the games with our lovely News Editor and fellow Fantasy Girl, and by the time Man of the Match rolled around for Wales, we were poised for further torment of poor Woods. Even though James Hook scored two tries, they still picked Stephen Jones which meant Stade Ballet were consigned to second place – cue much cackling from Bridget and I. By that stage the trophy was beyond the Beards and the might of Fantasy Deity Paul Fenno-sneak had muscled its way into third.
As for Ireland, well what the hell happened there? As I was watching with that impending feeling of dread I started to think back to the last match of the 2009 tournament. If we all felt that bad about losing the Triple Crown, imagine what we would have felt had the same game played out last year? It’s a shame that we couldn’t leave Croke Park in a blaze of glory, or at least a little chip pan fire. Still, it’s on to bigger and better things and I can’t wait to see the new Aviva stadium. The novelty of the construction has long worn off this weary Dart user, but I was swiftly reminded just what a gorgeous building it’s going to be by two Scotsmen in kilts last week. Bound for Dun Laoghaire, they deliberated at length whether the glass goliath coming up on their left was indeed Lansdowne Road, only to have their suspicions confirmed by the sign on the Dart platform. They were mightily impressed it has to be said, although I’m not sure they were on the money with the idea that the glass might light up green for Ireland home games, it’s worth looking into though.
Lansdowne/Aviva will be a new concept to me, my rugby interest has known only the temporary home of Croker. In a way I’m sad that I never saw Ireland play in old Lansdowne, which I think says a lot for how much I’ve gotten into this crazy sport in the last few months. This time last year I cared nothing of Lansdowne or its redevelopment, not even that it meant no Darts on Sundays.
If I ever manage to get tickets now, I think I’ll feel a little like a cheat, to have followed the team only on the return journey from Croke Park and not the outbound one too. At the start I said I loved a good bandwagon, and this one has had many thousands of jumpers in the last few years, but there’s always that sense that we only got in when the going was really good, and I hope that wears off one day. I never thought I’d get so involved in sport, and I don’t think I would have were it not for the Big Gay Beards. They are my team, not just the local team, but one I picked. And even if they are imaginary, it meant that so much more was invested in each of the games. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the obsession with supporting a team you have no control over, but my team only exists in cyberspace so maybe I’ll reserve judgement for once.
And so the time’s come to retire this particular Fantasy Girl, although she has been invited to guest star in that other sport we write about. The attentions will now have to be switched to the FunLaoghaire Pirates, but the Beards will always have the top spot in my heart.