The Six Nations Cometh: not Eddie Butler’s guide to surviving the matches drink by drink

Phaw ... talk about thirsty work

And so, the six tribes come together for the Northern Hemisphere’s spring stoush. Buckles will be swashed, loins girded, Scipio’s helmet buffed to a gleaming shine. For the lover of the ellipsoid pigskin, this is the high point of the year.

And what better way to follow this most gladiatorial of sports than to indulge in Bacchanalian reverie in the footsteps of the greats – McBride, Care, Guilford – enveloped in the flag of your fathers?

As a son of Pontypool, I know a thing or two about getting through a weekend session. Ray Prosser once made me neck a wellington full of vodka and Graham Price’s vomit. Believe me, once you cross that Rubicon, there is no going back. Here is my guide to watching each match, complete with recommended tipple and predicted outcome.

Round One                                                        

Wales v Ireland                Millennium Stadium                  13:30

First match, plenty of thirst and ambition. Mainly thirst between these two cranky Celtic cousins. Farmer-flanker O’Brien, Carlow’s finest son, to get things rolling for Ireland, but Welsh Brains to take over. A narrow win for the Men of Harlech, to be enjoyed with 4 pints of Guinness and 5 pints of Brains.

England v Scotland             Twickenham                     16:00

The Calcutta Cup runneth over. One part Lagavulin to 6 parts Indian Pale Ale. Brian Moore, opinionated solicitor of this parish, to describe Scotland’s performance as ‘cowardly’, King Edward’s men sending the tartan army to the bar early. And why not? Jerry G’s smug smile is enough to make me spew but at least Andy Nicol has to pay for the curry this time.

Italy v France                  Stadio Olimpico                  15:00

Ah, our sophisticated continental cousins, clashing in the Eternal City. Watching this in the pub, ensure that you look as sophisticated as Bergamasco playing at 9 with a tall, cold pint of Valpolicella followed in the second half by an intriguing Claret served in a yard. Expect me to over enunciate the French players’ names – Fofffff-ar-na!, and if the lad doesn’t pronounce it as such he should – as the second day’s plonk kicks in. Les Bleus by three essais.

In closing, despite anything Brian Moore – is this blowhard solicitor remotely aware that there’s more to our wonderful game than scrummaging and feeding the scrum? – says to the contrary, this is not my bedside table:


God – and my liver – willing, I’ll be back next week with my tips and tippling suggestions for Round Two.

Entirely imagined by Droptheclaw after a tankerload of Guinness

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686 Responses to The Six Nations Cometh: not Eddie Butler’s guide to surviving the matches drink by drink

  1. sunbeamtim says:

    Thaum – saw a lovely interview with a former team member , who had testified to a ( subsequently cancelled ) federal commission into doping . The guy saw Lance at a reception three months later , Lance got right in his face and hissed , ” You’re done , you’re finished ” . Ten minutes later , Lance texted the guys wife ” Dont walk , Run ” .There are a multitiude of stories like that around .

  2. wansteadimp says:


    Lance Armstrong

    What has been said up there – he is a nasty vile individual.

    Even in that interview he has thrown McQuaid under the bus, McQuaid is a self serving idiot that has spent the last 10 years plus covering for Lance. Lance’s comment about my friend until recently McQuaid is particularly revealing – it almost sounds like they’ve fallen out because McQuaid didn’t do enough to protect Lance’s reputation – not sure that even Lance could pull that one.


    Lance does have a point, to be a Tour de France contender in the period in question you needed to be on the drugs. I think there is 1 rider who finished on the podium in Lance’s 7 wins who has no whiff of drug scandal – he died in a racing accident at a young age.

    The UCI was negligent with the testing and possibly complicit in cover ups.

    Lance is getting it because he sued people who were telling the truth, made team mates dope, bullied riders who tried to tell the real story and used his image to con money out of people via Livestrong.

    Lots of cyclists were doping, only one was acting as a grade A asshole as well.

  3. MisterIks says:

    It seems the rumours are growing about Andrew Coombs starting for Wales. If he does I’ll be praying for his personal fairytale to come true, and he has enough latent talent to rise to the occasion.

    He is from my parish after all, and lord knows Gwent rugby needs a boost and someone to shoulder the burden Toby is carrying in Lydiate’s absence.

  4. Kocktopuss says:

    This is a link to a graphic designer who’s made pictures of some of the more ridiculous comments made to him by clients over the years;

    I’m willing to bet the bulk, the vast bulk, of them were made by marketeers or people apeing their shite.

  5. avsfan says:

    @crash: the truth is stranger than fiction.

    @thaum: yes, commiserations on your uncle.

    I swear, ten years or one hundred, life passes in the blink of an eye.

  6. thaumaturge says:

    Thanks re the Armstrong comments – what an arsehole. Sounds as though (from the article) doping is pretty endemic in the ‘sport’ – has that changed? Probably worse than horse-racing, and I’ve got most of my info on that from Dick Francis novels. 😉

    Thanks also for condolences re uncle: if Ireland do well then I think it will help as it would have pleased him.

    Off to bed now…. G’night all.

  7. firstdifference says:

    Lance does have a point, to be a Tour de France contender in the period in question you needed to be on the drug

    This is true, but I wonder about how relevant it is from an ethical or policy point of view? At a population level, drugs have an average effect that can be calculated. But this average is made up of individuals who for whatever reason respond to drugs better. In other words, they get more benefit from cheating than others. The fact that everyone was doing it doesn’t make it a level playing field.

    I don’t know if that matters at all. There are lots of other things that give people an advantage, but it’s one of the things I have been considering while this saga goes on.

  8. wansteadimp says:

    First difference – absolutely correct – the theory goes that Lance was physically not as talented as others so had a much greater increase in performance from the drugs – they certainly don’t give a level playing field.

    I suppose what bugs me is that because Lance is such a colossal prick all the focus is on him, but really the focus, if there is a desire to sort cycling out, should be on sorting out the underlying problems – ie proper testing and a root and branch reform of the UCI.

  9. HairBearHero says:

    @Claw, Thaum – my condolences to you both.

    @Flanker – welcome on board at long last! We’ve been waiting for a serious bit of aul hanning for a while now!

    @pooch – that picture of Happy Ianto makes me laugh every time. MrsHBH thought the article was brilliant (she occasionally reads ATL on her bus home). Why is the teddy called Happy Ianto?

    The only google results for Ianto were a character from Torchwood and Ian Evans’ Twitter account, neither of which seemed like likely inspiration…

  10. Karl1976 says:

    @flanker, good to see you again. Not sure how far back you’ve read, but there’s a meet-up in London on the 16th March.

    @thaum – whilst I’m sure expro would pooh-pooh the idea that it’s cleaned up, I think it has now. The speeds on the climbs, which are the real evidence of these guys being juiced or not, are now within the realms of peak human performance. Interesting article on the subject

  11. MisterIks says:

    @HBH – Mrs. HBH is clearly is a woman of impeccable taste. And she liked my article too which is a bonus.

    I hope not to disappoint bur Happy Ianto is just a made up name which popped into my head when I was trying to capture the tone and feel of the piece.

    What was truly delightful though is that in amongst all the made up names I used the real name of Rhys’s old school – Ysgol Gyfun Bro Myrddin – but my awkward prose made it sound like a reference to his teacher’s name. I think our glorious moderator sagmog subsequently added a comma, and thus invented the teacher Bro Myddin – an act of genius well beyond my capabilities.

  12. tomtrumps says:

    Finally caught up. For all those asking Duncan Taylor had a spell at the Blues so BBF should be able to fill you in. Apparently he did pretty well and was recalled for Saracens but doesn’t get much game time. He also had dreads, and now has a tight curly mop.

    That American fella could be a star of the Olympic Sevens. 7’s is only going to get bigger and that’s where the money could be in the future. Who knows? He could make more playing in competitive US 7’s team than for the full US team.

    Absolutely fabulous ATL, hat tip to Claw for a remarkable job. The quality is so good here.

  13. tomtrumps says:

    Oops, meant to say he could make more with a competitive US 7’s team, which they will surely become, than a playing for the full US team and an average contract in Europe.

  14. laraxwell says:

    Claw -awful sorry to hear that…I remember parts of Rome were a moped minefield on my rambles through the city. Very sad when one so young goes.
    Thaum – my condolences to you too…but you might text your uncle to ask for a little divine intervention when George North is steaming down the touchline on Saturday

  15. flair99 says:

    Deeply sory for Thaum and Claw. 2013 does have a bad taste up to now.
    Claw, I drive a motorcycle almost every day in Paris and I see a very serious accident at least once a week. Usually it is the responsability of careless car drivers. Two weeks ago, it was my fault. While driving, I was lost in thought about my father’s health. For no apparent reason a car in front of me hit the brakes and I saw it too late. Wet and greasy road. Fell to the ground doing about 50 km /hour, nothing serious. My worst fear was a guy on a scooter behind me, who tried to avoid me and fell as well. I saw him sliding towards me as if in slow motion. Scary. The irony is that I was going to the mechanic, to get a spare bulb. I got the bulb… allright, and about 300 euros worth of spare parts. As Avs says, it goes in the blink of an eye and we don’t even pay attention.
    Laser eye surgery: I got it done about 15 years ago, on both eyes. Never looked back.

  16. laraxwell says:

    Never looked back.
    and did you get your money back ?

  17. avsfan says:

    lara, I’ll get your coat for you. You just head straight for the door.

  18. flair99 says:

    Clumsy as I can be, it was much cheaper than buying a new pair of glasses every year. And I could not use contact lenses (not enough tears in my eyes) so sport was becoming difficult.

  19. boomkingish says:

    Finally caught up. This place is in serious danger of losing its reputation for painfully unfunny ATL.
    I hope not to disappoint but Happy Ianto is just a made up name which popped into my head
    I was so hoping that was the case, rather than it being another obscure NH rugby/hentai reference shooting past me. Genius. If the Grauniad wants to maintain the pretense of being a “national” newspaper, there should be Happy Iantos in Welsh kit on sale in the online shop. Make it so, Christian.

    Also – can we please add Livestrong to the crime sheet? There’s the whole “raising money for cancer research” versus “raising awareness of cancer” thing. Plus the blurred line thing e.g. charity events that thought their $100,000 appearance money payment was going to Livestrong rather than directly to Lance. The again, I’m highly suspicious of all sports star involvement in charities, foundations and the like. They never seem to simply donate their image to an existing charity – they all want to set up something from scratch, on the advice of their Tax Accountant and/or Brand Manager. That way they get to draw a salary, claim a vehicle as a business expense, avoid tax etc. Seems to be bugger all scrutiny of the ratio of money raised to money spent on the actual cause. And given that discretionary spending on charity is basically a zero sum game, they’re actually taking money off the truly needy. But I know some here are fans of the “Lets get people to pay us to take a holiday riding Vespas across Asia and give any surplus to the poor” model, so I’ll pull my head in now.

  20. avsfan says:

    I agree. What has happened to the Livestrong money is the real story here.

  21. tichtheid says:

    Claw, Thaum, so sorry to hear of your losses.

    Wow! I didn’t know that about the Lance charity kickback story. That is serious stuff.

    On a different note, Happy Ianto makes me smile, as did the whole piece on young Rhys. Only two more sleeps until it all kicks off.

  22. boomkingish says:

    Just to back-pedal momentarily in the hope of avoiding Sag’s ban-hammer, I should point out that my outrageous attack on the integrity and charitable deeds of sportspeople is not based on any personal knowledge of facts and reality in the charity sector. (Then again, Cat’s opening salvo in the Education debate was “This is actually something I know quite a lot about” which was quickly followed up with “They should take care of the 3R’s in Nursery” – so maybe this ‘knowledge’ thing is a bit over-rated).

  23. boomkingish says:

    Still back-pedalling, this time to avoid DCC, I should clarify that, in my honestly held and non-prejudicial opinion, the statement that “they should take care of the 3R’s in Nursery” is nonsense, for at least some values of “3R’s” and “Nursery”, though not necessarily the ones assumed by Cat.
    Oh fuck it. Ban me – you’d be doing me a favour, I have work to do.
    How did that ditty go again Muppet?

  24. Utnapishtm says:

    Remember playing against officers and men of USS Enterprise (aircraft carrier not spaceship) back in the day. Pretty much all from nfl background. Linebackers, rbs and wide recs ( though one Scottish bloke who had played a bit of rugger at 10 – buggers get everywhere)
    They were pretty clueless but boy could they run fast and hit hard.

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