If it were possible after only two matches to recognise a theme running through this year’s six nations, it is undoubtedly The Imperial March from Star Wars – the one that appears in the films whenever the Death Star appears and gears up to obliterate a planet, or whenever Darth Vader emerges from his masturbation disco ball for a spot of after-lunch cruelty to animals, but particularly when the innumerable massive forces of the evil empire are mobilising to crush all before them like the Doctor Martens of God descending through the clouds to stamp on helpless ants. It may have been masked somewhat by the obvious sound of “Swing Low”, but to the keen observer – it is very much there, and it heralds a great disturbance in the Force.
Since the dark days of 2003 there have been some fun times. Two Grand-Slams, thanks very much; including sporting a debutant centre like an impractical but novel handbag, and an away win at the Cabbage Patch requiring only ten minutes’ work. Brian Moore spontaneously combusting at inept downtown aimless kicking against the Italians. Mr Johnson bursting veins at Danny Care’s witless over-exuberance. Our eastern cousins were rapidly earning the label “Mostly Harmless” and the world healed over them with barely a visible scar to remind us of the dark ages.
And yet here we are again. Somehow in the space of a few months, a benign collection of plodders has managed to build a new Death Star, and guess what – the mother looks to be fully operational. Suddenly the level of post-match debate has descended to risk analysis of swallow dives and there’s talk in broad daylight, in the open, without fear of sectioning and as if the last 8 years hasn’t happened, of Grandslams, and worst of all, World Cups “coming home”. In these moments, the Imperial March swells to become the only sound in the entire universe.
So, once more, the world looks with the trembling outstretched hand of hope towards France. The fate of us all rests in the hands of 15 Han Solos; amiable folk who can pull off ridiculous stuff when they’re in the mood, but who unfortunately have a track record of motivational issues when the heat is on.
Come on then, France. You buy up all our best players, you have restaurants that close for lunch, you retire at 62 (and we all know how you bleated about that), and your popular music still has accordion solos. But this Saturday, you’ve got the big chance to blow up the shield generator so the Irish and the Scots can have a full-on tilt at the main reactor and put and end to this nonsense once and for all. We’ll be the Ewoks, pissed up on the sidelines throwing rocks and trying to be useful. Hope to join you for the fireworks party afterwards where you can get off with that incest bird with the headphones. Bonne chance, nos amis, bonne chance.