Seeing that the final day of the 2011 Six Nations tournament was offering a feast of rugby with three games in one afternoon (OK – and evening if you want full accuracy) the Bucharest Expat team matched diaries and we managed to be in the pub for the first game. Matching diaries was enough of a challenge after a particularly lively celebration of St. Patrick’s night in various bars around Lipscani on Thursday – top marks to the Gin Factory for finding a live, traditional Irish band to make the party one to try to remember. Diary coordination is not, however, everything, and in a masterpiece of planning someone else was sure to book the table. The end result was winning the table that nobody else wanted at Whispers, but we could still see the games so we settled down for the day.
With sport all around, (live football on the screens and darts in the background) discussions quickly turned to the games so far, speculation as to whether England could win the Grand Slam (possible but no guarantees), Italy could win another scalp after their heroics so far (also possible but no guarantees) and whether the French team would arrive waving a whit flag or come out fighting (not amongst themselves).
It’s been a fascinating tournament so far. England had won every game, but not made it look at all easy. Italy had almost beaten the Irish then took the French scalp for the first time. The Scots had scored three tries against the French but were still well beaten in that game, and were now playing to avoid the wooden spoon (the traditional prize for the team that comes last). The Irish were smarting after their controversial loss to the Welsh the weekend before due to an error by the linesman. The French had imploded against the Italians and their coach had been publically critical of his team so there were going to be a few egos smarting in that camp. England were surprisingly on the cusp of their first Grand Slam since the vintage year of 2003 but were not looking convincing – winning when not playing well is good, but not a good long term strategy.
Armed with coffee, we settled down to let the day unfold. Up first was the Scotland vs. Italy game, and the Italians broke out early with a try. The buzz grew in the bar, and the first beers were ordered. Our team Scot started to consider his fingernails as half time approached with Italy still ahead. The second half was exciting and the Scots managed to score two tries and clinched the game. Scottish fingernails were spared and more cold beer was ordered as a precaution.
With the build up to the Ireland vs. England game the pub was now full with several people wearing England shirts. The excitement built with the crowd, and we made a tactical switch to Guinness to mark the fact that the game was being played in Dublin. English hopes were sadly shattered by a much better Irish team, and the men in white never looked like they would win. As the match staggered to a close the Irish (and the Scots in the bar) celebrated and English eyes were downcast. It was not the finale hoped for, but at least England had played a better tournament than had been predicted. English support now switched to the French, as a win by France would mean that England won the championship if not the Grand Slam.
The bar now emptied slightly and refilled with a distinctly Gallic flair. There were no French shirts on show but there were definitely a lot of Frenchmen in the house. Allez les blues! In the absence of French beer the Bucharest Expat team toasted the Irish win with more Guinness. As the game unfolded it was clear that the French were not going to roll over this time, and a stunning 30m dash by the second row Nallet marked their first try of the game. English support was strongly behind the French team from a purely selfish perspective and there was a small cheer from the white shirts to mark the victory for the French as it clinched the championship for England.
After a long and challenging afternoon we burst out into the night in pursuit of more entertainment. There was no more rugby but the rumour of a live band in Mojo led us there. The rumour was with foundation, the band was good and we partied like it was 1999. The following morning felt like we had been partying since 1999, but we did accept that the slightly dehydrated feeling was self inflicted.
It’s a long six months until the Rugby World Cup kicks off in New Zealand but interest is already high (if not expectations). We’ll provide the preview before the event.