The West’s Awake – A view from the Bottom Paddock: Claw tackles Biarritz

Holy feckin’ Dog! I was expecting a warm welcome once we got to Biarritz, but to see that they had brought weather straight from our own Achill Island was a joy to behold. Or at least it was whilst I was indoors. In a pub.

After a quick yomp through the sodden streets of Biarritz, and one or two pints in our bellies, we bowled up to the Parc des Sports Aguilera around an hour before the match to imbibe the atmosphere and, erm, the beer too. We got a fantastic welcome, with the Basque band pelting out The Fields of Athenry and the two hundred or so Connacht fans getting stuck into it by singing along and responding with The Fields of Athenry. We may be a lyrical bunch in the West, but jeebers, we’re not good at remembering songs. A few mulled wines, a couple of local ciders and we were ready to get into the stands. Rumours were that Connacht asked for the game to be postponed due to the climatic conditions but were flatly refused. Further rumours implicated Sky in the refusal. Feck you, Rooooopert, you Oz-American octogenarian ballbag.

And so to the match. Into Tribune Serge Blanco we trudged, and what I had thought of as perfect tickets turned into what can only be described as a ballache of epic proportions. We realised that, being in the front row, we were completely open to the elements. I would have been better off wearing a wet suit. I’m still wringing out my socks now.

I wanted to fucking win – badly! – but we knew whichever team managed the conditions better would be the one to win.Claw001

And so it proved – Yachvilli giving a masterclass in the swamp, the Biarritz forwards playing a far more savvy game in the tight, ably aided and abetted by Connacht’s ability to spill the ball in almost any circumstance. I exchanged a brief bit of WORLD CLASS BANTER with Iain Balshaw. “Yer were shite for England!”, I bellowed at him. He responded with a shooshing gesture, and, two minutes later, he was in over in the left hand corner for a try.

That shut me up. The Yach conversion made it 10-0, and you could tell that this was not our night.

The most feckin’ frustrating thing, though, was the fact that we challenged well in the second half, put Biarritz under lots of pressure – to the point where they conceded two yellow cards – but we could not do anything with ball in hand, and, when Parks put boot to ball, he was unerringly inaccurate and too short. Every time he kicked, it came back with interest and Biarritz made thirty or forty metre gains. All our pressure yielded only one penalty, Parks kicking to the right and wide.

That was the story of the night for us, lots of puff and plenty of grind, but the wrong ideas and even worse execution. The night was summed up when Seremaia Burotu went over for the Basques in the last minute after a bit of a fortuitous grubber from Damian “Slow As A Trainful Of Shit” Traille. Yach made a peach of a touchline conversion and our losing bonus point disappeared into the sideways rain.

Match finished, many handshakes and warm commiserations from our hosts and a few more mulled wines, then we headed for the Red Café, Biarritz’s rugby pub. Several more pints and talking utter drivel to some locals, and I was a happy Claw. An even happier one when all the Connacht players showed up and I got to chat to several of them including Ronan Loughney, our tighthead and an utter gentleman. We discussed the departure of Mike McCarthy and the rumours Ronan had heard about his replacement – apparently someone from the Premiership – and his hopes for the rest of the HEC.

A good night, despite the result, and a seriously sore head in the morning, but thanks to flair – our resident French BTLer -and his top tips for nightlife in Bayonne, evening number two was just as successful, and I got nearly as plastered as Chek on the night bus home.

Great weekend all round. Roll on Munster next week.

About sagmog

Just the facts, man.
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565 Responses to The West’s Awake – A view from the Bottom Paddock: Claw tackles Biarritz

  1. titimanionga says:

    Sorry, got nostalgic there all of a sudden.

  2. sagmog says:

    It’s a shame, the next blog up was written by Crash, but he won’t be able to see it ‘cos of being lasered in the face today.
    Sometimes fate can be cruel…

  3. Tovarishch says:

    I watched a program called Instruments of Death

    Bet it wasn’t as good as The 80’s – Rallying’s Craziest Time or whatever that I watched iPlayer. Bog, I miss those Group B cars!

  4. titimanionga says:

    I can’t help but picture him shackled to a steel table, with a massive laser device shooting a beam through the steel and working its way slowly up towards cutting him in half. Crash lying there going ‘is it done yet?’, the operator saying to himself ‘oh, it soon will be, Mr Bond…..’

  5. sagmog says:

    I miss those Group B cars

    You and me both.
    Just ‘cos they were a bit “dangerous”, bastards.
    And we never got to see the 288GTO race on a track.
    Double bastards.

  6. MichaelVaughanMyLord says:

    I had laser eye surgery. Took 10 minutes. Doesn’t hurt. Piece of p!ss.

  7. killerline says:

    Still no HC announcement Claw………..fuckers

  8. killerline says:

    I’ve got a HeNe Ar ion laser in the room next to me….

    Crash should have said something.

  9. Chekhovian says:

    Chek will have a bash at a WW2 XV.

    You do me an honour, sir. I’d love to have had a ringside view for this lot.

    1. Battle of Britain – knights of the sky indeed, no quibbles there
    2. House of Commons, June 1940 – to listen to Churchill’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech. Still gives me shivers when I hear it.
    3. D-Day – especially to see the British troops march off the landing craft into enemy machine gun fire accompanied by the skirl of the bagpipes. One piper was shot in the legs but carried on playing. Commitment.
    4. Stalingrad – I’d probably last five minutes before being overwhelmed by the horror
    5. Dambusters Raid
    6. The Royal Navy operations room during the chase and sinking of the Bismarck – the stress and pressure must have been immense
    7. Kursk – especially the massive tank clash outside Prokhorovkha.
    8. Battle of Midway – three Japanese carriers sunk in three minutes.
    9. The Commando raid on St Nazaire
    10. Dieppe – epic Allied failure
    11. Arnhem – epic Allied failure
    12. Attack on Pearl Harbour
    13. The interaction between Roosvelt, Churchill and Stalin at Yalta. The Big Three carve up the world
    14. The VE Day celebrations in London
    15. My grandfather’s bedside in some sodden airfield in Burma, 1944, when he woke from a malarial fever to find a native cobra sitting on his chest. Just to tell him everything’s going to be fine.

  10. Absolute genius:

    “I am proud to tell you it was here in London in 1871 that a group of burly, moustachioed, mildly inebriated Victorians met at a pub and decided they’d had enough of the namby-pamby pussyfooting around of the spheroid fetishists of Association Football.”

    Good bless Boris. Useless as tits on a hog, but he certainly has a way with words.

  11. tcod says:

    15. My grandfather’s bedside in some sodden airfield in Burma, 1944, when he woke from a malarial fever to find a native cobra sitting on his chest. Just to tell him everything’s going to be fine.

    Was it?

  12. Karl1976 says:

    Tov, I pine for those grim mornings in November, tuned to the TV, watching the Quattro S1, Lancia S4, RS200, 205 S16 E2 fly round the Welsh forests. Those cars were amazing. A regret I never managed to persuade my Dad to take me to see some of the Cumbrian stages.

    Were the group B cars that dangerous or was it just a case of them getting a bad rep with the bad crash in Portugal and then the Finnish driver crashing down the hillside (memory getting a bit sketchy here). Or were they just too far ahead of their time in terms of power without the control that modern cars have?

  13. Lindsay Hilton, who plays scrum-half for the Halifax Tars women’s team in Canada against able-bodied players, despite being born without hands or lower legs.

    And still has a quicker pass than Mike Phillips.

  14. tcod says:

    Baldy posted that on the Kitson blog Cat

  15. killerline says:

    Baldy posted that on the Kitson blog Cat


  16. Karl1976 says:

    Baldy’s come in for a bit of stick over on the graun blog. The Xenophobe card has been played. It’s quite funny, because the factual bit of what the Ogre has said is dead accurate, it’s just his unique way with words that is causing the issue…

    Like many, including some real-life Welshies I know, aren’t too keen on a Welsh-dominated Lions tour based on current Welsh team form. But, much like assuming Richie Gray is crap just because he’s playing for Sale, it would be an error to make that connection.

    Some deserving players will tour, and some undeserving players will tour. The only thing that in 100% true is that we’ll all disagree on at least one of of the deserving vs undeserving lists.

  17. Chekhovian says:


    Well, he didn’t get bitten, and he also lived til he was 89, so yes, I suppose everything was fine in the end.

  18. PlanetoftheChimps says:

    Quality historic moments here.

    I’d quite like to visit the battle of Trafalgar. As Nelson died did he really say ‘kiss me Hardy’? Honestly, these navy types

    Being a fly on the wall during Hitler’s last days in the bunker would be an experience.

  19. killerline says:


    4 chances and 4 narrow defeats don’t fill anyone with hope though do they?
    I’m English but I was livid with Wales on that tour. Genia’s genius aside: it just wasn’t good enough.

    If the tour was to SA I’m sure people would say that’s England’s bogie team…and how could we argue back?

    If Wales had won 2 or 3 of the 4 I’m sure they be using it as an oar to lever their players into Lions shirts.

    I’d still be taking Welsh players mind, and the less we look into Kitson’s bizarre selection the better.

  20. I know. I saw it after I posted.

    Damn him. Mind you, my fault for going for such an obvious gag.

  21. Moderation:

    I’ve done it a few times. Approved when people have ended up in Spam, and deleted some nonsense that got through the filter. In terms of offensiveness, I’m not moderating anything as we self police and idiocy should be allowed to stand.

    I reserve the right to repeatedly delete trendy, though, if he ever shows up.

  22. Back in shit office today. Using 1990’s looking wordpress. Hate this.

  23. tcod says:

    Well, he didn’t get bitten, and he also lived til he was 89, so yes, I suppose everything was fine in the end.

    Good to hear Chek.

  24. Tovarishch says:

    @Karl1976 – Answer on t’other blog!

Comments are closed.