Le­in­ster de­serve the ul­ti­mate praise. They are ‘The Boss’ –

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - Matt Wil­liams’ anal­y­sis

Ilove Bruce Spring­steen. “The Boss”, as Spring­steen is uni­ver­sally known, has wo­ven his poetry of love, heart­break, tragedy, joy, sac­ri­fice, jus­tice, re­silience, sex, eter­nity and the never-end­ing hope of re­demp­tion into all the sit­u­a­tions of my life and that of my gen­er­a­tion.

Like Bruce, and mil­lions around the world, our grand­par­ents were im­mi­grants and could not go to high school. Our par­ents’ teenage years were melted by the great de­pres­sion, and yet our gen­er­a­tion were the lucky ones. The mi­grants’ tale of the third gen­er­a­tion be­ing spe­cial. We were liv­ing the dream.

“It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive,” sang Spring­steen

In our eyes he was telling the world our story, with all its great joys and sor­rows. More im­por­tantly, the world was lis­ten­ing.

From the time a school friend handed me a re­cy­cled cas­sette tape with Bruce belt­ing out the im­mor­tal words “tramps like us, baby we were born to run”, he had me. At rugby train­ing, ball in hand and wa­ter melon split grins on our faces, we would yell those words to each other as if Bruce was singing about the run­ning game.

It was not just Bruce, it was that he looked af­ter his mates. The E Street Band were his broth­ers. They were a com­mu­nity. The Boss and the E street band were do­ing it all for us. They were lo­cal boys “done good”, look­ing out for each other.

Es­teem

“We said we’d walk to­gether baby come what may.

That come the twi­light should we lose our way.

If as we’re walk­ing a hand should slip free, I’ll wait for you And should I fall be­hind, Wait for me.” – Bruce Spring­steen My school­boys mates and I held Bruce in such es­teem we used his name as a per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of the high­est lev­els of per­fec­tion known to man. For ex­am­ple, when asked for your opin­ion on any new mu­sic, your an­swer was “it’s not Spring­steen”. Mean­ing it’s okay, but not top qual­ity.

It then tran­scended to other as­pects of life. If you played a good game of rugby your mates would com­pli­ment you by say­ing “you had a Bruce of a game”. A pos­i­tive exam re­sult was termed “you Bruced it”.

Or when at the school dance, the 16-year-old star­let who was rock­ing your world, de­spite you be­ing too shy to ask her to dance, so you could only gaze from across that great di­vide of a dance floor. She would be given the ul­ti­mate com­pli­ment. “Mate, she is The Boss.”

No higher praise could be given. You were not just “Bruce” or “Spring­steen” but “The Boss”.

Le­in­ster de­serve the ul­ti­mate praise. They are “The Boss”.

Born and bred

Le­in­ster are “Bruc­ing it”. The other teams, well, “they just ain’t Spring­steen”.

The ma­jor­ity of this Le­in­ster team are born and bred in the prov­ince. Leo Cullen, their leader and coach, is one of their own. A Le­in­ster icon to his boot laces.

They are lo­cal boys do­ing good. A unique and valu­able qual­ity in pro­fes­sional rugby.

Like Spring­steen and his loyal world-wide com­mu­nity, there is a con­nec­tion be­tween the Le­in­ster team and its peo­ple. It’s not like Muster and the Red Army. It’s more sub­tle. There are no “to the brave and the faith­ful” state­ments. That’s just not Le­in­ster.

If it takes a vil­lage to raise a child, it has taken the com­mu­nity to de­velop Le­in­ster as a club. The play­ers and staff are acutely aware of where they came from, and what the team means to their peo­ple. Out­siders un­der­es­ti­mate the power of this within Le­in­ster. Its not as overt as other prov­inces, but it is real, and it is deep.

“Blood broth­ers on a stormy night with a vow to de­fend. No re­treat baby, no sur­ren­der.” – Bruce Spring­steen.

This team is the third gen­er­a­tion of the pro­fes­sional era, the for­tu­nate ones. Also, the first to have grown from boys to men watch­ing their he­roes in blue. They stood by the fences at Don­ny­brook and on the ter­races at Lans­downe Road.

Now at the RDS and the Aviva, these play­ers dreamed of more than just get­ting their day in a Le­in­ster jer­sey. They dreamed of hold­ing tro­phies high above their heads. Of re­turn­ing to their schools and clubs as ex­am­ples of suc­cess.

Very spe­cial

This year Le­in­ster have beaten Sara­cens, the de­fend­ing Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons, Mont­pel­lier, the lead­ing French Top 14 club, the Scar­lets, the Pro 14 cham­pi­ons, and Ex­eter, the English cham­pi­ons. That record is some­thing very spe­cial but that is the past.

To­day is a time for hope and re­demp­tion. To­day these de­mons must to be slayed.The last five years of Euro­pean fail­ure must be re­venged.

Stuart Lan­caster’s World Cup hu­mil­i­a­tion has to be buried. The doubters of Cullen need to be si­lenced. He is prov­ing that he is an ex­cel­lent young coach. This gen­er­a­tion of young Le­in­ster play­ers doubt­ing their qual­ity must end.

This may be the last chance for Sex­ton, Kear­ney, Nacewa, Healy and Toner to win the Cham­pi­ons Cup with their beloved Blues. They de­serve vic­tory.

The game in Bil­bao has all the in­gre­di­ents for a raunchy, lung-bust­ing, joy­ous, sexy Spring­steen an­them. Like all great songs by “The Boss”, their is al­ways the chance of heart­break.

Climb in. Its a town full of losers, and I am pulling out of here to win. – Bruce Spring­steen I feel I al­ready know all the words. Allez les Bleus!

Like Spring­steen and his loyal world-wide com­mu­nity, there is a con­nec­tion be­tween the Le­in­ster team and its peo­ple. It’s not like Muster and the Red Army. It’s more sub­tle.

“They say “ya gotta stay hun­gry” . . . Hey Baby . . . I’m just about starv­ing tonight!” – Bruce Spring­steen

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