It would have been fun to visit Montpellier again this weekend but pandemic travel restrictions have kept us at home. So we sent the Leinster Rugby team without supporters to a stadium where no home support is allowed. Last time Leinster played Montpellier, we were there to witness the win, sitting in the top row of what surely must the most vertiginous stadium in rugby. We followed the team each step of the the way to the final in Bilbao which Leinster also won. Our fourth Champions Cup.
We, and it is we, beat Montpellier again today as Leinster strive for the five, to become the first team in the twenty five year history of the competition to win the cup five times. Toulouse are still in the reckoning and they too have won four times.
Rugby has had some bad press this week with Steve Thompson announcing that he has no recollection of winning the Rugby World Cup in 2003.
As Andy Bull wrote for The Guardian:
‘After Steve Thompson won the World Cup in 2003, he took part in the victory parade through the West End, was picked as one of the three best players in the world and went to Buckingham Palace, where they gave him an MBE. Thompson won a grand slam too, as well as a European Cup with Northampton Saints, and he played for the British & Irish Lions.
Now, at the age of 42, he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy.’
Steve Thompson is not the only player to have been diagnosed with early onset dementia. And it’s been clear for years that something will have to be done to reduce the collisions. One place to look is Rugby League where the scrums, rucks and mauls have been virtually eliminated. However a really big difference between amateur rugby tactics and those of the professional Union code game is that players avoid each other in the first and purposefully seek to run through their opponents in the latter.
I like the spectacle of the Union code far more than I like the League version. But I accept that our heads are too valuable and fragile to allow the clashes to continue.
It’s time to change the Union game.
It’s been a year since my last vote in the UK. A year since we left London. A year since we settled back into Dublin. A year of many changes. But that’s quite enough on that particular relocation topic.
Since I mentioned years, solar years, let me remind you that there’s a full moon roughly every 29.5 days but the calendar months are between 28 to 31 days. So the lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the 365 day calendar year. And so you should have well known that the Golden Number for 2020 was VII, the Gregorian Dominical Letter D and Epact 5, and the Julian Dominical Letter E (Epact 14). I hope you got Easter right!