Picture the scene; Six Nations 2030, a packed stadium of 50,000 cheering fans, a large green pocket of Irish travelling fans surrounded by maroon shirts. Hold on, Maroon? It’s not that the Welsh shirts had a France shirt mixed up in the wash, it’s Georgia.
There is no talk of winning or losing in the Irish or the Russian camps this week. Nobody doubts which way the result will fall when they meet in Kobe tomorrow. This game will be about so much more than the numbers beside each nation’s name at the final whistle.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup is finally underway and before too long, it will be Ireland’s turn to get their campaign up and running. It will hardly be the gentlest of introductions to this global gathering of the sport’s greatest exponents, though, and the fact that Joe Schmidt’s men have to face Six Nations rivals Scotland first up tomorrow has shaped everything that has gone before this summer.
It isn’t necessary to be a eurosceptic on steroids to have concerns about the European arrest warrant (EAW) system, currently being used — and abused — by Spain’s government to get its Catalan dissidents back from Germany and Britain. Even the European Parliament voiced disquiet about what it described, back in 2014, as the system’s “imperfections”.
Down to third place in Group D, but not yet out of contention for a ticket to the World Cup finals in Russia, Ireland’s hopes almost certainly rest on winning both of their remaining qualifiers, against Moldova in Dublin and Wales in Cardiff next month.