Perversely I am somewhat glad that Ulster didn’t walk all over the Scarlets on Sunday and post a cricket score. At one stage a game of rugby threatened to break out but gratefully, from my point of view, both sides saw sense and settled for the superior team on the day winning whilst the losers helped themselves to a losing bonus point.

You see, perverse as it may seem, one of those four try bonus point games for Ulster might have engendered a little smugness and complacency in them ahead of the critical away game to Northampton Saints.

As it is, they will realise that teams aren’t going to roll over and die before them when faced with umpteen international caps and a winning streak longer than the tail of Halleys comet. Ulster once found themselves in the sort of place the Scarlets did on Sunday, up against it and nothing to lose.

The result was a dogfight of a game, little enhanced by the referee or any meaningful performances and best consigned to one of those ‘must be put up with’ in order to get to the matches that matter.

Friday night’s game against the Northampton Saints is the game that matters and early in the season to boot, the wall of death beckons for those that chose to take on the challenge. It’s not the end of the world if we lose but a win here would lay a definitive marker for the rest of the season.

Not season defining but could define how our season pans out. I’ll leave the predictions for those who peruse the chicken wings, little silver baubles and stick pins in tins of Tenants and of course the FRU.

Suffice to say we need a losing bonus point here as evidence of our credibility as a team going places in Europe. I personally think we might even win, but no amount of gazing into the squad sheet will reveal any definite clues as to how.

Kimble World

I had a very good reaction to last week’s blog. Thank you one and all for the comments, it does my ego no end of harm, in fact I was almost instructing my agent to renegotiate my contract with the boss of the FRU.

This blog is something akin to Craig Gilroy in the Scarlets match. Willing to carry on where I had left off, but as with Craig, unfortunately the circumstances had changed and the ambience was more muted than expected.

Still it was nice to bask however briefly in a man o’ the blog performance. Key to my performance was the blessing of the URSC’s president. Known as much by his moniker The Original Kimble, as his Campbellian surname, Kimble is all things to all men and women depending what circumstance happenchance.

I trust he will forgive me for recalling his website Kimble World. I was reminded of this unlikely place the other evening when I watched a documentary on an American led expedition to explore remote caves in China.

After much rooting around, dangling from ropes over extreme drops and more scientific hot air than a global warming e-mail, the team leader’s elusive search for quartz and the clue to the caves origins ended ignominously. They were none the wiser than when they started.

As I recall finding Kimble World was a similar challenge, somewhat remote like the Chinese caves and then when you entered there was nothing, although a portal, as I recall, invited you further in and still nothing!!

Mind Kimble partook in a marathon run for charity a few years back and in partnership with his able lieutenant, Cap’n Grumpy contributed to a blog documenting their training effort.

Grandly titled ‘Death by Tarmac’ it was nearly as catastrophically somnambulant as Death in Venice.

The President of the Ulster supporters Club lives on, as the tarmac failed to finish him and like the irrepressible Pheonix he has risen from the burning tar and walks amongst us a common man with lofty ambitions for the Ulster support.

Check out yellow buses to limerick over Christmas!

I am hoping he will return my favourable piece on him by locating a Terrace ticket for the Leinster match for a friend of mine. Well live in hope rather than perversity on this one.

The Pope as You’ve Never Known Him

The Irish Independent has been publishing juicy extracts from Brent Pope’s autobiography. Pope is the character on the RTE rugby panel who still wears shirts with the collar a different colour and pattern from the rest of it. It’s either a slightly detached look or very retro depending on your age and how you view him.

I recall, during my playing days, seeing him play for St. Mary’s against Malone. He was much admired as the archetypal Kiwi eight, stocky, with great leg power off a standing start and very durable.

I understand from his auto that he came close to playing for the ABs, so how he ended up playing for St. Marys I’ll never know.

Perhaps I should read the book.

In one other extract from his book he visited Londonderry in the bad old days and almost got his car blown up when he parked in a control zone. He apparently was escorted out of L’derry by the security forces with a fool’s pardon.

Have to say he’s at least waited until he’s over fifty before publishing his life story unlike some footballers who are into their 3rd instalment by the time they’re 23!

In fairness had he published sooner there might have been a recognition problem.

An American in Ireland

Extracts of the FRU’s American rugger girl in Ireland say she was offered chips with her Chinese. Actually recall a bloke walking into the Chinese in Dundonald and asking for a sausage supper with fried rice?!!

Resourceful people the Chinese are, the fellow was given his sausage supper with a wee drop of rice and sent on his hazy way.

A WKD Weekend?

Things are shaping up well this weekend. The beer tins and wine glasses are perfectly aligned for Heineken rugby starting with Ulster on Friday night, Leinster on Sunday afternoon and Munster on Saturday.

Toss in North Down cycling’s ‘hot port’ run to Daft Eddy’s on Saturday morning where hopefully I’ll be buoyed by victory the night before.

Victory on Friday night for the Ulstermen?

I’ve seen the teams and still can’t make up my mind. A little voice inside my head revisits the Ulster of old as at Milton Keynes when disaster of a sort visited our front row.

If John Afoa cops it we are in trouble as tighthead is the one area where we are a bit light.

Difficult to tell from the Saintly supporters either whether their team has got a big game in them. They’re playing this one down like billy’o.

Both team’s supporters are doing their level Best to see who can be the most downbeat about their teams chances, a few headers apart, who prowl the UAFC.

Will be watching the big screen heart in mouth. Hopefully will be standing proud for the Ulstermen at the end of it.



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