The pain has subsided. The knot in the stomach has loosened. The empty feeling, the sense of loss, has dulled. It is finally time to think clearly about the England-Ireland match of last Saturday.
Watching Ireland play rugby is a subtle form of emotional torture. Only with the passage of time, and a second look at the match with BBC commentators, is any sort of detached appraisal possible.
On the day, I’m too caught up in it, too outraged at Owen Farrell’s late tackle on Conor Murray, too worried that we’re letting Mike Brown the run of the pitch, too annoyed at George Hook’s prophesies of doom.
Now, a few days later, watching a recording of the game, the experience reminds me of Wordsworth’s definition of poetry: emotion recollected in tranquility.
Now, I can see that we had our chances and could have scored a couple of times. On the day, I felt England, so resolute on defence and so physical, deserved to win; now I feel it was more even and that, if anything, Ireland have cause to feel hard-done-by.
How the two teams fought for every square inch of turf that day! There was no space to be found anywhere: not up the middle, not out wide, not at the fringes of rucks. And boy did Ireland try. They had loop moves, cut-out passes and cross kicks, but whatever space these opened up was quickly shut down.
Did Joe Schmidt run out of ideas? Maybe. But it is hard to see, given the weapons at his disposal, how he could have orchestrated a better attack on this wall of English beef. We did not have the right type of players to go through the English, and we did not have the pace to go around them.
Still, we lost by only three points. Hardly the rugby Armageddon George Hook was describing. Maybe this is just where we are right now, three points worse than England.