FOR MANY, THE Six Nations is a joyful time.
But for others, it is a time of fear and confusion. A time of sitting in pubs trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about, when all you can see is a large group of men beating each other up.
NO MORE. Armed with these five simple phrases, even the most ill-equipped of “fans” can bluff their way through an Ireland game with ease. Simply memorise them beforehand and off you go!
1. “Good hands”
This phrase is great because it can be deployed at any time. Maybe someone has just thrown the ball; maybe someone has just caught it; maybe you’re just talking about Paul O’Connell’s mighty paws in an abstract sense.
There is no inappropriate time to say “Good hands”, but if some churlish fan DOES give you a funny look, simply follow it up with “Did you not see that?” as if you’ve spotted a subtle off-the-ball incident they missed. Chances are they’ll be cowed into agreeing with you without the need for further explanation.
2. “COME ON!”
One to be used at intervals. The more enthusiasm you can muster to shout this with, the more convincing it will be. Again, its beauty is its versatility – it’s appropriate when Ireland are winning AND when Ireland are losing.
“COME ON!” works best when people are actually playing – but even if you say it during the half-time break, people will probably just assume you are a deeply committed fan anxious for the game to resume. Foolproof.
3. “[Name of player], eh?”
A good conversation starter, ideally delivered with a wistful shake of the head. The idea here is that the other person will launch into a lengthy explanation of their own feelings on that particular player, leaving you with the easy task of nodding along.
You needn’t bother contributing anything further – your companion will be so grateful that someone is finally listening to them uninterrupted, they’ll never notice.
Good players to mention include: Brian O’Driscoll, Jonny Sexton, anyone you hear the commentators mention.
4. “It’s the battle of the breakdown”
One for the ‘punditry’ phase of proceedings, ie either during half time or after the game has finished. (Are there men in shiny suits on the screen? Then now is the right time.)
Don’t worry about what it means. Simply deliver it with a knowing air, and wait for everyone to agree with you. If someone presses you further, pretend to be so engrossed in what Tom McGurk is saying that you haven’t heard.
5. “Ah, Hooky”
Say this whenever George Hook is speaking or appears on screen.