Psychiatrists Couch

The secretary comes into the waiting room. She spots the torrid wreck on the sofa and says “the doctor will see you now”. The patient uneasily walks in and lies on the coach. “Thanks Dr Freud” they say, “we need this”.

Dr Freud: So tell me about your dream, Ireland

Ireland: Well, I keep seeing these muscular, dark-eyed stubbly geniuses in my dreams. They are so silky, fashionable and effortlessly cool. They make me feel so inadequate.

Dr Freud: What do these men say?

Ireland: They don’t even look at me. They simply go about their business. And it’s such a stylish and enigmatic business. I end up so weak-kneed that I just kick loosely to their Rolls-Royce like outside backs and they run riot as we invite them to do what they want to us. They glide past me like shadows. Such good-looking long-haired shadows. *sniffs*

Dr Freud: Let’s be more specific. Tell me about the good-looking ones.

Ireland: Well, there’s Emile N’Tamack running in try after try in the Parc des Princes. Then Philipe Saint-Andre in Durban, laughing at our heavy-legged attempts to shake off altitude. That Freddy guy, toying with our minds as he shreds our confidence and defence. Vincent Clerc – he’s the worst – he makes us cry before he even gets level with us. And Cedric Heymans – smoking a Gitanes outside Coppers, our women on his arms – so suave.

Its so unfair Doctor, we try so hard, but they don’t respect us. They are full of self-confidence and look down on our mental frailties. They ruined our holidays in South Africa, Australia and then France. They won’t let us have the ball.

Dr Freud: Hold on. Do they sing?

Ireland: They do. They sing such a manly, raucous song – a song of revolt, of brotherhood, of liberty and of great red wine. It makes our pair of dirges sound even worse. It makes them grow, I swear. Listen for yourself, you’ll find yourself saying eminense grise when talking about Yannick Jauzion.

Dr Freud: Ah! The French!

Ireland: Yes. the French. *sobs* All I can see is a tattered tricolore flying over Paris in ’89, General de Gaulle strutting down the Champs Elysee in ’45, Eric Cantona’s poetry about seagulls and trawlers and Vincent Cassel’s chiselled cheekbones. Their orange sauce is to die for!

Dr Freud: This is a severe case of inferiority complex. Sure, their unstructured backline play of the 1970s and 1980s made you look like the bunch of fat amateurs you were, but things have changed – I mean, you can beat everyone else.

Ireland: Except the All Blacks.

Dr Freud: Don’t call them that! And leave it – this session is only an hour.

Ireland: Ok. Go on.

Dr Freud: You have knocked off the Springboks a few times, Australia semi-regularly, England more often than not since the Millennium, that Scotland hoodoo has gone. I mean, it’s not 2006 any more – they aren’t even that good.

Ireland: What? But all I read is about how dangerous they are when cornered – that Wesley Fofana is like Christopher Dean.

Dr Freud: Listen, their forwards are out of shape and trot from ruck to ruck with the stamina of the bastard lovechild of CJ van der Linde and Matt le Tissier. Their captain is injured. The nincompoop coach has done nothing since Sale Sharks – Sale Sharks! – and has managed to fall out with his two best players. I mean – look at them – look! They hate each other. How can you say you can’t beat them?

Ireland: *mumbling* but … Medard’s chops … Szarszewski’s hair … Huget’s beard

Dr Freud: Forget all that – the referee on Saturday has more testosterone in his little finger than the French team have in their staring XV. Let me call in my assistant.

The doctors assistance enters the room.

Joe: Get up off the floor, you gibbering wreck. This is insane – all those great players are gone. The Saint-Andre guy – he’s ruining the team! You guys have a gameplan and are well-coached – these guys are a shambles. Here’s what we are doing – we are forgetting any mental hangups and concentrating on process. We will design a gameplan to beat a flawed and uninterested team, and we will beat them. I could not care less what has happened in the past. This is a professional sport, and we are going to win. Text all your friends with one reason why we will win, then come back to me on Saturday.

Ireland: Are we nearly done here? I’ve a puff piece to do with Gerry for Saturday.

Joe: Gerry! Do not under any circumstances speak to that man – we’ve to foster a healthy lack of respect for France. And think about this: you get their respect by beating them. They’ll like you, and might even be friends. If you are serious about getting pulling lessons from Parra, make him want to go out with you. Now, where is O’Mahony – I need to tell him he’ll turn to stone if he looks Walsh in the eye.

*curtains fall*

The truth is, Ireland’s rugby relationship with the French mirrors exactly our national hangups – we would like our society to be more open, more egalitarian and with better trains, we want to be more fashionable, eat better food and drink better wine. We look at France and see not the clapped-out third gear country of now, but a gleaming idealist paradise, with great-looking citoyens.

For all that we protest that we a modern country now with the Troubles and the banana-republic capers behind us, the reality is we don’t believe it ourselves. If we can begin to beat the French on the field, who knows where it might lead in the sphere of national development. The DORSH might even start to run regularly and on-time! Let’s start that journey on Saturday. Allez les verts! Wait, I’m over-respecting their romantic and expressive language … darn, how do we stop!

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  1. No question, when La Marseillaise rings out in Stade on Saturday, our fellahs’ll feel the hairs on the back of their necks rising. Nevertheless in terms of the psychology, I think we’re starting from a good position. In the group stage of the Heineken all four of our provinces went to France this season and won; Munster stole it at the death; Leinster came back from two tries down. The lesson of how to let a victory slip from our grasp has been well and truly learned. The French equivalent of “… Crotty in the corner” is something no member of JS’s men will ever want to experience again. The new regime has gotten its first match “on the road” behind it and came out of it with credibility. Sure we lost, but only very closely in what has been up until now the match of the tournament. The slight lack of momentum our visit to Twickenham brought with it, has been corrected. We started favourites in the following game, played as such and blew our opponents out of the park (something, which in previous eras we have had difficulty doing, so attached were we to the role of underdog). We have to be prepared for the French to “show up” and put in their best performance so far. Should BO’D, Paulie et al however do the same, I have no doubt, but that we will win. Éirinn go brách!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hairy Naomh Mhuire

     /  March 12, 2014

    Stunned silence in the WoC blogosphere as we all contemplate our national identity & a previously unrequired ability to process homoerotic imagery ……………….

  3. osheaf01

     /  March 12, 2014

    Not much green on that list of matches. Mostly blue-white-and-red.

    We have 10 wins in Paris in history: 1910, 1912, 1914, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1948, 1952, 1972 and 2000. Given Jack Kyle is well in his 80s, that’s 4 in living memory, 2 in my lifetime and one in contemporary history.

    We are our history, I’m afraid.

  4. connachtexile

     /  March 12, 2014

    I wonder with Sexton playing in France if that will have any bearing on the game? He would at this stage have probably played with or against everyone on the french team and with familiarity breeds contempt as they say. Having an outhalf with zero fear of the french has to work in our favour you’d think. Really hope we win this one.

    • I can’t imagine Rog fearing the French and his record in Paris wasn’t great

      • That was then and this is now. At any rate I’m going with Henry Ford on this occasion: “History is bunk”.

        • osheaf01

           /  March 12, 2014

          It’s not, though. Munster might not have the same calibre of team now that they used to have recently, but that Home Record in the Heineken still intimidates…

      • L.P.O

         /  March 12, 2014

        How can you not imagine O’Gara fearing the French. They’re the team that exploited his obvious weaknesses most ruthlessly from day 1. And he knew it too…

  5. Leinsterlion

     /  March 12, 2014

    A change of National anthem, not in lyrics, in composition is in order. Two dirges is right, not even the passhun of Munstermen crying as they bellow it out can raise the same sort of feelings of excitement the like of the French or Italian national anthems can, and do. As for the Phil Coulter fiasco, Amhrain na bFhiann’s poverty struck, webbed footed cousin is best not mentioned.

    As to the game, France are a shambles, PSA couldnt coach an under 9’s side, yet this is the most apprehensive I have ever been for an Ireland game since back in the EOS era, and its only Wednesday!! We should easily trounce them on form and based on the probable lineups, but we wont, and I feel we could still lose. When is Dr. Freuds next opening?

    • connachtexile

       /  March 12, 2014

      Right after my appointment for anxiety.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 12, 2014

        • contraflow

           /  March 13, 2014

          Joe give the Irish Players the “kill the bunny” pep talk, with their claws and fangs I hope they kill the french bunny…. it is really only as hard as we make it for ourselves.

  6. contraflow

     /  March 12, 2014

    With regard to France [and BNZ], there seems to be two distinct rugby classes emerging. The more mature fans, media and players who I would call “the beaten before they have even stepped on to the field” brigade and the newer/younger fans, media and players who live in the present rather than the past. The latter class don’t know their history and are consequently unburdened by it while the former seem married to history and think there is no greater feat for an Irish rugby player than to valiantly put it up to France [or BNZ] before being heroically crushed by the genetically superior french/kiwi rugby super-bots.

    As I am no longer young I should be in “the beaten before they have even stepped on to the field” brigade however I much prefer the company of the positive, if history deficient, people who dwell in the present and think recent form a much better indicator of the outcome than historical records.

    I pray that enough of “the beaten before they have even stepped on to the field” brigade have been weeded out of this Irish team for Saturday. Controversial part next… Should I have put “golden generation” in the last sentence instead of “the beaten before they have even stepped on to the field” brigade?

  7. frontrowunionmember

     /  March 12, 2014

    The great thing about this coach is that, he has little time for history and has given Ireland a confidence to win the games we should be winning.
    This is one of those games.

    Everything about this game is set up for process and execution and getting rid of the demons of yesteryear. To state the obvious, critical that we hold onto possession and don’t kick aimlessly or invite the french to run at us early on. It plays to their strengths and emboldens them. As we all know, an early score to france will permit the old ghosts of Paris in the springtime to invite history to repeat itself.

    Coupled with this being a truly rudderless, average and poorly managed french team, the W is there for the taking.

  8. Murt

     /  March 12, 2014

    Our record in Paris is broadly a reflection of the historical gulf in class between the teams. Away matches are always harder so even on the rare historical occasions when Irish teams were the equal of the Gallic Supreme Beings, home advantage usually saw them win the game. The even rarer Irish victories are evidence of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances of a significantly better Irish team.

    Even the golden generation (kill me, please!) came up against an impressive French team and struggled away from home.

    The current crop are probably man for man better than the French players available/chosen. Probably.

    The management is stronger than the French management. Definitely.

    Freud, Hooky and Vincent Clerc be damned, the coronation of King Brian will be in Paris!

  9. Colly Noonan

     /  March 12, 2014

    I don’t know. I can’t help feeling this has déjà vu written all over it. Mabye I’ve been reading too much GT.

  10. Munstermicko

     /  March 12, 2014

    Pom has shaved his chest so his chest thumping Pashun slaps while he bellows the anthems will reverberate all throughout Stade Francais with greater effect.Joe Smit has had POM locked in a cage all week. Each hour himself and Plumtree walk past the cage poking him with a stick through the bars and loudly discussing Stephen Ferris’s return from injury. Peter wont be let out of that cage until Dinner time on Saturday….and he’ll be enjoying 15 servings of Frogs legs, even if they are undercooked and uninspiringly prepared by Chef Saint Andre.

    Should it happen to rain then Drico will simply glide across the water.

    I can’t wait for this. There wont be a cow milked in Cork or a car stolen on Limerick come kickoff.

  11. El Greco

     /  March 12, 2014

    Most commentators (GT, Wardy, BJAck) seem to think we don’t even have to go to Paris as we have it won already. The Frogs have been awesomely, spectacularly muck this tournoi, and I really hope they continue with their leaderless, rudderless, fear-filled approach, and stay cowed by PSA into never trying everything…..but, whatever about the ‘backlash’, far worse still – a humiliated France is dangerous, and they have been mocked and abused in their press all week. Whatever about their inept 10-12-13 channel, their anonymous 2nd rows, their misfiring line out, if the pack get arsey enough in the days before the game (and there are signs of it with Mas’ angry press conference) it could kick start something like the version of frogs that torches the kiwis/welsh at the world cups just when everyone has them written off.

    It’s unlikely, but just..possible -that fear I have lingers. Coupled with the complacency the press corps will be blowing tenderly up the arses of the Irish boys, this “misty eyed for BOD week” leaves me uneasy… An unlikely sequence of events, early injury to jSex or BOD plus a break away try for example could kick start the frogs playing with their dander up – in spite of/ to spite PSA, which would turn the crowd into Bear-Pit mode…and there be monsters there…Ugly…{shudders}

    I remain optimistic for us, but have severe misgivings. As a my brother so eloquently coined in this Wardyism- it could be about a perfect storm derailing the party.

  12. Hopefully this year marks another shift in the mindset of Irish rugby, similar to the one that ended up with us lifting three Triple Crowns and eventually a Grand Slam.

    I’m not so much worried about the history of us and the French, so much as their counter-attacking ability and their absolute *need* to put in a good performance for the year, similar to the post-09 Kidney regime. Look at where we were three years ago when we were largely average, and then absolutely destroyed England’s Grand Slam.

    Schmidt, Freud and Enda will all be working the balance between “ah jaysis lads the French are shite at the minute” and “ah but they’ll be looking to punch ye’s in the gut” I think.

    I’m just glad they salvaged a win over Scotland. Could you imagine the sort of backlash on us if they’d slumped out of Murrayfield in defeat?

  13. Yossarian

     /  March 12, 2014

    If the French dramatically recalled parra,trin-duc, Bonaire,rouguerie we might have a problem but in his bid to “rebuild” they lack on field leadership. Pape giving out about the French disallowed try against the welsh for the knock on that came off his hand was farcical(along with picamoles clapping)
    They will be tough, they will be physical, we will have to preform, but a 10/12 point win is not out of the question.
    Swarevski and picamoles will improve their pack but without dusatoir or Nyanga or oedrago they don’t have the back row to compete. Le roux and lauret just aren’t of the calibre required.

    Could the French do one of their one in a dozen performances?maybe, anything is possible but even if they do I’m not sure they have the structures to break our defence down.

  14. abitofshoepie

     /  March 12, 2014

    They may have been a shambles so far, but they are the one side for whom ‘form’ is irrelevant. They were pretty awful in the last world cup yet were a decent referee away from winning the thing. Drawing the last two tests with France with ‘we’ll see how it goes’ Kidney at the helm, as well as the form of the provinces, should give us the confidence of being at least at par with them. Its going to be fascinating to see how the Joe approaches it.

  15. Seymore

     /  March 13, 2014

    Four matches into this thing and we still kick the ball too often in the opposition 22 (Which is why I’d rather Paddy Jackson perished in a bass fishing accident at the hands of a pike).

    If we kick the ball away to the french as we do religiously in Paris, we’ll hand-hold them down the only avenue they have to hurt us. Taking this unfit french team through phases will be the way to hurt them, and any kicks infield should be contestable. I was very impressed that we took the Italians through phases with patience, the same is required here.

    Also, as much as our narrow defence has gotten away with it, the French will look to move the ball wide quickly to make us tackle facing the wrong way. We have been losing our shape in defence after only 2-3 phases (Kurt McQuilkin to coach defence please). I have a feeling we will defend from out to in for this game (as Leinster have in away games in Europe). Aggressive line speed and double tackling tight-5 forwards against momentum teams is important. Double tackle all runners 10 yards either side of the ruck and they will put their tools away. Remember France go through the forwards more than most teams, dominating the 10 yard channel wins the game.

    France are impatient and rely on momentum, if we meet them behind the line we will force individual play, and they will trip over themselves to compound simple errors. They are a hiding waiting to happen, and I believe this Irish team can beat them well.

    Our scrum should dominate this one and our maul will reveal the lack of preparation and togetherness in this poor French ‘team’.

    If we bring anything close to the intensity of the NZ game, we will win by more than 10. I expect a seething, angry Munster type display of ruthlessness, I’d put my match box cars on us winning this one!

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