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Wallabies v Ireland, Dublin 2002 - Tour Review

Landing at Dublin the smell of Guinness wafted through the air.....there's something special about Dublin. It might not be the prettiest city to look at, but there is no better party town.....a city taylor made for the Fanatics!

The Fanatics gathered at a true Irish watering hole "the Down Under bar", but fun was had by all, as we all met our new touring companions.

By the end of the evening, we were all singing and dancing and man were the jugs of beer cheap! No better way to kick off a weekend away!

Saturday morning greeted us with a cold overcast drizzling day, much like a typical Melbourne summers day.

The weather couldn't dampen the spirits as there was a certain confidence in the air, that the Wallabies would walk away with another memorable victory, and we would all be there to witness it, in of the great rugby grounds of the world.

The meeting point was again last nights haunt, the "down under bar" wear the masses joined in a who's got the most hot air competition as we all focused on blowing up our National Geographic Kangaroos without going light headed and collapsing after Iast nights hangover. (I took the easy route and well thanks Lucinda for blowing mine up). Funny how the women were better at blowing them up than the men!

Then a few more beers, some singing, spirits were high and the time had come...

pre match drinks

We set off in our numbers around 12pm, with our gold clad jersey's, with, hats and wigs (of all descriptions), plus flags and Kangaroo's, we certainly must have been a site.

Lead up the streets by a Aussie flag 15 feet above in the air. There wasn't an Irish jersey to be seen, just more Aussies joining the cause. With the crowds taking photo's pointing, showing there little kids. There was a feeling this was going to be a great day!

After a 20 min walk, the beer had warn off, and after being bombarded with free stuff, from chips, chuppa chups to ponchos, we finally made it to Lansdown road. But after the drying-out walk, we headed into the ground and to the Guinness bar!

The bar was full of Aussies, and an orgy of 3ft Kangaroos! After a few more at the bar and the band starting playing to get us back in the mood, we were all on a high, as we decided to hit the South Terrace to get a good spot for the "hi Mum, TV shots".

To our shock, no alcohol in the ground, which we thought was very UN-Irish! Anyway, we took our spot in the lower left hand side and friendly banter proceeded with the locals.

The Athems in Rugby are always a passionate and special moment, and we sung our hearts out, as did the Irish, followed then by the now tradition rendition of 'Waltzing Matilida'.

Then it was time for kick off. The weather wasn't the best, but not as bad as many commentators described it as. (Although we had our suspicions that the Irish Fire Brigade were assisting to provide familiar conditions for there team, as it hadn't rained since early morning). There was a decent wind coming in from the south and a light rain the whole match.

The first exchanges were predictably fiery, then a pattern developed, the Irish played there kicking game and waited for the penalties to come! Well the tactics worked, as the Wallabies floundered with dropped ball and conceded penalties, the Irish just chipped away, never making big yards, but just setting up field position!

There were some rays of hope as the Wallabies occasionally spun it wide, the holes opened up! But at the half we were looking at a 12-6 score line not in our favour.

At half time it got worse, if it wasn't bad enough our hero's were under performing, the Irish brought out there newest trophy, the Melbourne cup, the writing was on the cards.

As the Wallabies came out the mood was still upbeat, come on boyz, we know you can do it! But the same script continually unfolded, and as the sun set.....at 4.15pm, so did the chances of any come back by the Wallabies. As the final waves of attack ended with another dropped ball, then the whistle was blown and it was all over, 18 to 9.

As the wallabies walked off, the Irish went nuts. In retrospect, I think non of us realised how bigger win or how important this match was Ireland. 23 years and 35 year in Ireland itself! Its a long time. As U2's "a beautiful day" blared out the sound system the Irish team did a lap of honour to a deafening roar of the crowd.

Even though we had lost, to be there and witness it is something else! (Although I hope I don't have to see that again).

This writers quick synopsis of the game, no matter what newspapers wrote, Ireland weren't that good. We just didn't take the opportunities, plus being penalised out of the game (by a ref I use to think was above average) frustrated the Wallabies.

Our defence was good, we made all the clean breaks, there's coming from blocked kicks, or dropped ball. And that was it, too much dropped ball (under no pressure) and pour options and the game was kicked out of our grasp! Stirling Mortlock being our best player.

The only real contentious point was the disallowed try, and well if that wasn't a try, well, words I would like to use can't be on this site. But fair play to the Irish, they won, and lets be frank, who can hate the Irish!!!!!!

As the band in the bar played "Skippy the bush Kangaroo", the big crowd made its way back into Dublin, it was like a slow death march for some of us.

After witnessing France beat us last year, at least I don't speak French, but it was hard to bite our tongues and not show our disappointment as the Irish almost speak understandable English. As I fear this was the same for all the Fanatics! The meeting place again was our Down under bar, where we could take refuge from the weather (which had now stopped raining) and try and console each other with more drinks and the good old Aussie fighting spirit!!!!

As the night went on the Fanatics filtered in the dark streets of pubs and clubs of Dublin, doing there best to drown in there despair, drink to excess and corrupt as many Irish girls as possible.

A few met the boys (the Wallabies) after in one of the bars, where they apologised for there performance and thanked us for our great support!

We did our best for Aussie pride and wore our jerseys proudly, and when ever the topic of Rugby and 23 years was brought up, all we did was just speak about the cricket.....
Wed 13/04/2005 Craig (skunkie) fitzgerald 164 views

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