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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday January 26 2006

If you are a British rugby fan, then no matter how miserable your life is or how disgusting the weather is, there is always the Six Nations.  It takes something like bloody Mad Cow Disease to stop it.  And this year, BBC1 is televising the lot.  Sometimes Sky creams off the best stuff, i.e. England.  But not this year.  This year, I can watch it all and tape it all.  The first England game is Wales, on February 4th.  For me, this is the real European Union.

The thing about the Six Nations is that you never know what will happen.  Sport is always a matter of animal spirits.  The consistently good sides are merely those that know how to unleash their animal spirits at exactly the right time, along with such things as skill, pace, etc.  But if the animal spirits falter, of if the other guys get an unexpected dose of them, all pre-match bets are off.  Thus England, having won their first four games, can show up in Scotland, to play a Scottish side that have only one win in four, say, for the formality of winning the Grand Slam, and then England can lose.  France can get bored, against anyone, and lose, or get excited and beat anyone.  Wales, however poor their side is supposed to be and however many vital stars may be out injured, can get inspired, against anyone.  You just never know.  Only Italy have so far mostly failed to rise to any of their many occasions.  Sometimes they beat Scotland, and that’s about it.

But even Italy can surprise, in the manner of their defeat if not the fact of it.  To give you an example of how animal spirits can suddenly come and equally suddenly go, I recall an England Italy game, where the pre-match talk was that England would probably struggle to dominate at first, but that they eventually would, and would maybe run away with it a bit at the end, but maybe not.

So what happened?  For the first half hour England played some of the best rugby I have ever seen.  Lewsey, in particular, was spectacular.  England scored five tries in no time at all, all converted as I recall, and seemed on course to win by about a hundred nil.  But then, England’s purple patch turned to grey for the rest of the game.  Italy found some defensive spine from somewhere, or England got tired, or got bored, or something, and there were only two further tries in the entire game, one by each side.

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