As regular readers will know, when I’m not in the news hot seat in Cardiff or London, I’m usually heading to France to tend to my long distance marriage! Hubby Lee plays his club rugby there, so I’m no stranger to an airport terminal and I take very seriously my other full-time job of cheerleader wife. This month has proved exceptional for journeys in the name of Team Byrne and the oval-shaped ball.
The stage was set for a Dublin Heineken Cup final for my husband’s team. Opponents Toulon were always going to be tough and I knew it was time to strap in for a turbulent ride. The game itself provided joy (when Clermont went over the line twice), fear (when Toulon did) and ultimately sheer disappointment. After a match dominated by Lee’s team, suddenly the opposition managed to turn it around and it was them – not the favourites – who took the championship. And by just one point. Needless to say, watching my husband’s cup ambitions slip away was excruciating.
But this is not a match review and nor is it useful to to dwell on sporting misfortunes! And despite my feelings at the final whistle, my week of France/Dublin cheerleading was, on balance, a success.
First, and foremost, we recruited a new member to the support team. Lee and I met the little chap who is to become our new puppy! A little miniature schnauzer only ten days old and the size of my hand. The litter had colours painted on their tiny tails so the breeder knew who was who. There was no doubt the ‘blue’ one would fit right in. It was settled. ‘Jaune et Bleu’ are Lee’s club colours. Mission accomplished.
Next? Well, dentist followed dogs. An emergency pre-match visit to deal with toothache. At first we assumed we were misinterpreting, but it seems in France it’s not so common for an assistant to be on hand in the surgery. There followed the most surreal dentist appointment I have ever attended. I was being instructed to take x-rays to her count and then hold mirrors up for the appropriate treatment to be completed. But, the impromptu work experience did make us chuckle and Lee left with his problem solved. So, another duty ticked off.
And finally, to D-day in Dublin. A crack-of-dawn start for myself and the other wives as we caught a plane bleary-eyed in the early hours to Ireland. Not having lived with Lee in France full time, I am still forging friendships with my fellow cheerleaders. But they developed easily as we settled into a bar and bonded over a pint of the black stuff. Well actually, us girls couldn’t quite manage the pints. So halves it was! And so the ‘Mini-Guinni club’ – as it was christened – had its inaugural meeting. Job done.
Clermont may not have got the result they deserved in Dublin but, as Ronan once sang, ‘life is a roller coaster’. It does have its slightly nauseating twists along the way, but my week in France and my day in Dublin reminded me that to appreciate the highs, you have to experience the lows. And maybe next year our very exclusive drinking club will be toasting a big shiny Heineken cup as well as a half pint of Guinness!