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

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Saturday March 14 2015

Squash?  And what the hell is squash?  Exactly.  It’s a potentially great game, in which a couple of guys with slimmed down tennis rackets bash a black rubber ball around in a small courtyard.  The trouble is that the courtyard is too small.  As a result, the better the players, the harder it is to hit a winning shot.  Watch a top squash game, and you are watching two of the people least likely ever to make a mistake, waiting for one of them to make a mistake.  Watching paint dry is Shakespearian drama by comparison.

Well, rugby union is becoming like this.  Two teams now consisting entirely of men-mountains knock seven bells out of each other for an hour.  (Backs now look like forwards used to look, and forwards now look like laboratory accidents. The teams who are most depressing to watch are France and Wales, because they used to have diminutive attackers who did things like smoke, and dodge tackles instead of driving into them like human tanks the way everyone does now.) If either team gets tired, the other team might then score some tries, but if neither does, the contest is settled by the referee making incomprehensible penalty decisions, and by the two opposing penalty kickers.

Watching Ireland and Wales, two of the best teams in the Six Nations, is what is making me say this.  It’s deep into the second half already, and for the first time in the entire game so far, one of the teams (Ireland) looks like it might score a try. But no.  The ref has just blown his whistle, again, and Ireland fail to score.  So Wales stay in the lead by four penalties and a drop goal, to three penalties.

Now Wales have just failed to score a try.  The commentators are saying that this has been “a fantastic ten minutes of rugby”.  No.  Fantastic would have been if someone had actually scored.

The trouble is, the pitch is just not wide enough.  I remember Bruce the Real Photographer saying this to me about a decade ago.  He may have been right then, and I reckon he’s definitely right now.

And the Welsh have now scored, a really good try.  Typical.

And now Ireland have scored, a penalty try, which is rather unsatisfactory but at least it’s a try.  A penalty try is the one where the two scrums go at each other, and the defending scrum does something mysteriously illegal to stop the other scrum tanking themselves over the line.  Wales 20 Ireland 16.  It’s livening up.

Commentator:  “It’s a thrilling encounter.  It’s a shame there’s only about eleven minutes left.”

So.  Squash for an hour.  (One of the commentators called it “muscular chess”.) Then a quarter of an hour of rugby.  This is what counts as “a fantastic game of rugby”.

Later: Wales 23 Ireland 16.