Saturday’s game between Ireland and South Africa marked “Rugby coming home” to the Aviva Stadium, aka Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Of course, the fact that rugby had returned home on July 31 with a special match arranged to launch the stadium had been overlooked by the IRFU marketing department, but that’s not important right now.
The game proved to be a disappointment. Ireland never got going until the last 10 minutes and the crowd was flat. Part of this was due to the 15,000 seats that weren’t filled due to the stupid pricing policy that had sought too much from hard-pressed fans in the middle of a recession, part of it was due to the weather. Rugby isn’t fun for players when it’s cold and raining and it’s even less fun for spectators. We sat in row E of the South Stand, five rows from the pitch. The view was great but the rain teemed down to make everything very unpleasant all round.
The record will show that Ireland lost by two points (21-23) but South Africa won this game reasonably easily. The twelve points scored (2 tries) in the last ten minutes came after South Africa had withdrawn some of their key players and had rearranged their back line, so it’s not altogether clear whether Ireland would have had the same degree of success had the original team stayed on.
The next time I shall see South Africa is in Murrayfield, Edinburgh when they take on Scotland in two weeks time. At least I shall have a nice, warm TMO position to view the game…