45 minutes had passed when Jonathan Sexton was hit in the middle by Zander Fagerson, prompting the Irishman to take a small step back and then bend down for a breath.
t is the shortest pause between backpacks; Five seconds later, another member of the Fagerson family lunges in his direction.
This time Sexton braces for the tackle attempt and drags his much heavier opponent onto the turf.
As he does so in this dizzyingly dynamic and absorbing spectacle of violence, the hulking form of Jonny Gray approaches like a mugger down a dark side street.
With a swing of his huge arms, he interrupts the Irish captain’s attempted poaching and throws him to the ground with the contemptuous ease of someone throwing garbage bags into a container.
We thought of Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven, retired and aging hitman William Munny, face down in shit trying to make sense of it all.
what is his life
But then we took the binoculars and watched Sexton’s face as he squirmed and squirmed to escape the now heaving mass of sweaty flesh that had enveloped him in the jerk.
A sports assassin’s murderous intent summed up in five seconds.
This is his life.
Six minutes later he unfolds what might be the game’s best Irish move from a set piece deep into the Scottish 22, but James Lowe screws it up.
The ever-smiling Kiwi gets such a violent hilarity that it can be heard in the back of the East Stand; On the next set piece, Lowe lines up as the first receiver, but he’s loosened up his lines yet again.
Sexton shoos him off with the disdain of a peasant woman chasing chickens from her kitchen.
The 12th Irishman to win a Triple Crown had effectively decided the day in the 14th minute when he replaced chaos with cohesion and threw a deft 50-22 in the corner.
An Ireland line out. An Irish attempt. An Ireland win. Küster the theatrical lead.
“You don’t look like the f***ing son of a f***ing cold-blooded assassin,” the Schofield Kid scoffs at Munny.
Unforgiven is a film about so many things; one theme is regret and how people struggle to accommodate it in their lives; another is humility – or lack thereof – in the way we think about our life’s work. And worth.
And that made us think of another pig too; Stuart, but with two ‘gs’.
And how the selfishness of a supposed leader of the men conspired for the second time in a week to undermine not only his loyalty to the cause, but his trust in the team.
“You’re watching five seconds of an 80-minute show,” he replies sullenly, his explanation befitting the poverty of his decision-making after botching an attempt for a second consecutive visit to Dublin.
Words like culture and environment are often thrown around too causally by athletes, almost like a verbal shield to prevent unwanted intrusion.
Saturday revealed her burning truth; Ireland, led by Sexton, are committed to their shared values; Scotland has none.
“I’m not going to miss this,” Hogg murmurs as he goes about his media duties.
It remains to be seen whether he will leave his captaincy; Who would notice, long since he’d lost responsibility for that role?
And why should his country care so much if he cares so little?
As with Finn Russell, the team’s other wonderfully extravagant luxury, the sense of entitlement of a team that has achieved nothing is remarkable, especially in contrast to the Irish.
Gregor Townsend had preferred his wayward talent to Sexton on the Lions tour last summer; Veteran’s Triumph is now another persistent class reminder.
When Hogg thinks starting a shove match might be a substitute for a lack of leadership, Sexton demands his attention.
“Look at the scoreboard! Look at the scoreboard!”
The numbers never lie, you will find the answer when all the sums are done and you discover how much value your character has added to the final result.
“They’re good people, a tight-knit group, and you can do a lot with good people,” says Andy Farrell; that Sexton is her guiding star is no coincidence of circumstances.
Time can suffocate us all, but it presses on him with increasing urgency, which is why he probably can’t afford to dismiss “five seconds” of his day with the gleeful indifference of a Scot.
Who of these contenders can admit that they’ve really pulled the marrow out of their sporting life when their final statement of work is inked?
Ireland’s fourth attempt may have seemed meaningless to the vast hordes who chose to stay away from the Triple Crown celebrations, but Sexton cannot indulge in such wanton extravagance.
We watch him jump and punch in the air as Conor hits Murray; all that matters is every single moment, and that one demands an appropriate response.
And when it’s over, move on to the next one. The nerves that gripped him before the first kick were now pushed aside by the joyful release after his last; even in the wan grimace of an oblique kick.
“This team really means so much to me. It was more about the squad. That’s it.
“I was nervous. I wanted us to do our best. We showed everyone in the stadium what it means to play for Ireland. That’s the most important thing.”
In presentation, the central man of this troupe becomes rather peripheral; But if there are any pull-out posters or pub mirrors celebrating the 2022 Triple Crown champion, his face will stand out.
True greatness always does.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/sexton-leads-by-example-as-sport-reveals-two-contrasting-characters-41468955.html Sexton leads by example as the sport reveals two contrasting characters