What does winning mean – Part Deux
A year or more ago now I asked what does winning mean to this Connacht team. Due to the current injury crisis there is a growing debate on the Connacht Clan specifically about the Newcastle game tomorrow and what can be expected from the Challenge Cup this season, which relates to this question. There are a lot of interesting factors at play here, which I want to spread out into a more general discussion of winning.
The World Cup is almost upon us and I am fucking excited! While it’s a bit of a pain for Connacht, and for non-Connacht based fans who now won’t get to see many televised games as a result, the trade off is seeing those other boys in green giving it socks against the rest of the world. Unlike the autumn or summer internationals where you never really know how much any team cares about the result, its always pretty clear that everyone is trying their best to have the most successful tournament possible. For the ‘minnows’ – that terrible but unavoidable diminutive nickname – the desire to graduate from small fry status by slaying one of the big teams in the group is a huge incentive, and in the right groups there’s even the potential that one of those teams can progress to the knock out stages. For the bigger teams its about proving themselves against their northern and southern peers at once, unlike in the six or quad nations where they are geographically limited. Its no holds barred, winner take all rugby, and that’s what brings out the best in this sport.
For now the main point of contention is selections. Armchair management is everyone’s favourite side game to the actual sport, and I’m no exception. I’m going to outline some of my thoughts on the Ireland squad and the first two warm up teams before giving my own predictions. Hopefully if I have time I can return to talk about the other teams in the tournament at some point in the future.
Connacht faced into the game against Ospreys off the back of a comprehensive loss to a fairly makeshift Exeter in the Challenge Cup. In the lead up to that game the talk was that the focus was very much on the Ospreys game, and as a result there was a slight forgiveness given for the European performance. However the last two weekends again proves how difficult it will be for Connacht to attempt to compete in two competitions and achieve the goals set down for both – a sixth place league finish and a Cup final. Believing that many important players had been rested for the Ospreys game, there was still a hope and expectation of quality performance and a tight game, with a win against severely weakened opposition appearing to be a semi-realistic proposition. It didn’t work out that way. Continue reading