Mark Lawrenson recently coined the word ’superbole’, a device that might do justice to the sheer scale of hyperbole Ryle Nugent is capable of come ‘Six Nations time’.
In RTE’s absence during the World Cup, Keith Wood gamely kept these fires burning, noting after Ireland-France, he had witnesed "the most extraordinary level of bravery I have ever seen."
But without Ryle on board, there is no guarantee any commentator will greet kick-off with the words: “It’s time to unleash the dogs.”
We have taken it for granted, for too long, that every rugby international would bring us 80 minutes or so closer to a complete understanding of human potential. To where will be turn without this sort of spiritual and physiological guidance?
Tom McGurk: “Where does defence come from?”
Conor O’Shea: “The human heart.”
When a try goes in, in Rugby Country, we’ve always looked to Tony Ward to capture, in an apt phrase, why this is truly the game that binds us as a people:
"MADE IN CLONGOWESSSS!!!!"
We will still be able to watch most matches progress via a long series of aimless kicks downfield. But no longer will be treated to a tense half-time exchange of tactical bon mots...
George Hook: “Those who ignore history live to repeat it.”
Conor O’Shea: “Those who live with history will never achieve anything,”
Is there a danger now, with a more restrained gentleman like Matt Cooper at the helm, rather than Tom McGurk, that we may no longer appreciate that we are dealing here with meetings of the very finest minds:
“Michael Cheika meets Joe Schmidt. Who will be Socrates and who will be Plato?”
And without George on the case, do we run the risk of a coup in Rugby Country where we might even eventually return to those lesser, discredited ball games:
“What makes rugby the greatest game played on earth is that, unlike Gaelic football or soccer or hockey or American football, at the end of it, it relies on the courage, character and commitment of men.”
Watching a rugby match nowadays invariably involves long stretches spent watching a man looking up at a big screen, waiting for another man to tell him what to do.
It’s much like watching Soccer Saturday, with Merse looking to Stelling for guidance.
In theory, the TMO is supposed to help out, but it’s more likely that referees are listening for Donal’s typically booming instructions from the gantry, keen to move things along: “Come on, man. How forward is that?”
Who will they turn to now?
Is there anyone out there prepared to endure 80 minutes of rugby without first being treated to the sight of Tom McGurk lounging in an arthouse cinema, reflecting on where everything has gone wrong:
“Where have the exotic French matinée idols gone? The days of champagne rugby? La belle France?”