"The Irish scrum had, prior to the arrival of John Hayes, conjured up little apart from images of women's blouses." is how one commentator assessed the Irish set-piece against Romania and I was reminded of an article that appeared on this site some time ago on the diffferent opinions offered by journalists in their player ratings. That opening piece was penned by George Hook who just cannot resist using colourful language even though the analogy is totally ridiculous.
In the Sunday Times Tom English felt that Irish scrum-half, Peter Stringer, put in a top class performance, passed well, threw in the odd break and kicked better than normal. That was a view shared by Brendan Fanning in the Sunday Independent who when mentioning, some fine performances said, Stringer passed superbly on a difficult evening for a scrum-half. However Fanning's Sindo colleague Hook in his player ratings gave Stringer 6 and commented that by his high standards (Stringer's we hasten to add not, Capt Hook), an average performance, Passed well but missed a couple of tackles and had an important kick blocked down.
Alas, concluded George after all the pre-match hype, looked strangely lethargic. (Stringer that his, not George himself).
The question of standard was raised again by GH when talking about Bran O'Driscoll By his standards an average performance. While over in the Sunday Times, the English, (Tom that is, not the entire country across the water) view was that, We didn't see him for long periods but when we did he was devastating..
On the issue of the number eight; Hook - Game largely passed him by.English - Ireland's fringe defence was top class for most of the game, Foley has to take a fair share of the credit for that.
On Marcus Horan, Neil Francis in the Sunday Tribune felt his was, a very very disappointing effort, taking a giant step backward.But his good friend Tom English opined that as part of a front-row unit that had a torrid start he had settled down by the time he was replaced by John Hayes.
Then there was the opinion on Malcolm O'Kelly. Franno, who knows a thing or two about (under)performing, said this is O'Kelly's quietest performance in years. Didn't feature in loose play, wasn't used at line-out time and didn't look to get on the ball.
But English disagreed with both declaring, A fine performance from the columnist, whose role has changed in recent times Was a constant threat at line-out time.
Malcolm of course has been supplying a column - and very good it is too - to Tom's paper for some time.
Then there is the logic of these player ratings. How can a reporter report and at the same time assess each individual over the course of the game.Look they do their best for God's sake. But do they ? Work this out if you can.
In the Sunday Tribune, the highest rating of 10 went to John Hayes, a 58th minute replacement.Alan Quinlan arrived on in the 68th minute and earned a 7 as did Shane Byrne and John Kelly. None of those three merited any comment.
Now guess who got the lowest rating ? Guy Easterby. And what time did Easterby hit the park ? The 76th minute according to columnist Peter O'Reilly.
However, not content to ridicule the back-up scrum-half with a marking of 2, The paper, in assessing his performance gave as much print space to a player who played for about ten minutes, as he did to players who played for the entire game. And they had this to say
I understand how heroin addicts feel when they go cold turkey. Everytime Guy Easterby runs on the field, a cold numbness permeates my spinal column. Easterby is a turkey. ,p>Now guess who compiled the player ratings in the Tribune and that particular piece of mean and nasty comment ?
Neil Francis. Surprised ? Hardly. What was that he said earlier ?
Didn't feature in loose play, wasn't used at line-out time and didn't look to get on the ball.
Remind you of anyone who played lock for Ireland at the end of 80s start of the 90s?