Rugby

A Detailed Analysis Of Paul O'Connell's Legendary Question Of Sport Appearance

A Detailed Analysis Of Paul O'Connell's Legendary Question Of Sport Appearance

You'll have seen it by now: Paul O'Connell added to his reputation as an Irish legend by furnishing arguably the greatest moment in the 46-year history of A Question of Sport. He went and bloody got Borussia Monchengladbach based off two letters and the exceptionally nebulous clue of 'any sporting term'. He earned an ovation for his incredible efforts.

But what of the performance on a whole? O'Connell himself would agree that one legendary moment does not make an outstanding performance, so we've looked at the tape, and here is the detailed analysis of Paul O'Connell on A Question of Sport.

The introductions

Minor quibble: O'Connell was introduced as a British and Irish Lions captain, rather than an Irish captain, but we'll give the BBC a pass on that. O'Connell was joined by another Irish legend in Tony McCoy, either side of captain Phil 'Tuffers' Tufnell. Quite what O'Connell would make of being led by a captain prone to flagrant acts of arse chancery in the Pursuit of B****r would prove an intriguing sub- plot.

Round One - A Slow Start

Round one was a quick-fire round, with Matt Dawson's team of Friend to David Moyes Leon Osman and British Olympian Elinor Barker. They registered a pretty solid score of seven, leaving O'Connell's Tufnall's side playing catch-up straight away. O'Connell was quiet and composed during the round, speaking calmly only when he knew an answer. Check out this uber-cool response to the question asking for the Pro12 champions:

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Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for parity, and they trailed 7-5 at the end of round one.

Round Two - A Place in History 

Round two was absurdly convoluted: showing clips of various sportspeople whose initials made up a 'sporting term'. O'Connell cut through all of the bullshit, however, to deliver the already Borrusia Monchengladbach line. He earned a high-five from 'Tuffers' Tufnall and some extremely begrudging applause from Matt Dawson.

In trademark fashion, O'Connell then had a quiet word in the referee's word about the scoring system, and why his side only received two points.

So, from where did the inspiration strike? One of our Facebook commenters has an intriguing theory:

paul o'connell on a question of sport

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Regardless, it was quite a moment. We hope he enjoyed it, as things would soon go awry.

Round Three - Things fall apart 

The next round was equally complicated. Captains had to take to the floor, and had to apportion balls into a basket corresponding to an answer, the number of balls in each based on their confidence in the answer. Dawson was first up, and was given the question: which side has spent the highest number of seasons in the Premier League.

The three options were Fulham, Leicester and Portsmouth. The number of balls the captain placed in the correct answer would be the number of points earned, along with the number of balls brought forward to the next question.

The round gave us the first of Dawson and Tuffers jumping around in acts of profound eejitry. O'Connell spent much of Dawson's turn ignoring what was going on, instead psyching himself up for his team's turn:

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Sadly, things went awry on Tuffers' second question, and after the soaring high of Borussia Monchengladbach, O'Connell had to accept some culpability as things fell apart. The second question asked which sport features the highest number of players per team: Aussie Rules, Hurling, or Lacrosse?

O'Connell was sure of hurling, but didn't know how many players are on an Aussie Rules team. Hauntingly, he decreed that there couldn't be more than 15, that it would be "ridiculous". No, Paulie, NO!

Unfortunately, a mixed round meant that Paulie's team picked up just two points, leaving them 13-10 behind heading into the penultimate round.

Round Four - O'Connell tries to rescue things 

Round four was the far-easier-to-understand Home or Away. Contestants choose a 'home' question for a point, or an 'away' question which asked for three answers in return for three points.

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O'Connell bravely selected 'away' with his team chasing. It was a Formula One question, and his team only went and got it. It left the score at 15-14 to Dawson going into the final round, after some fine tactical leadership from O'Connell.

Round Five - Coming up short 

The final round - Sprint Finish - asked the captains to take to the floor, and describe sporting terms to his teammates without using the words in the title.

Again, this round required more Tuffers eejitry, and he did a remarkably poor job in describing the terms to his teammates. There was a painful attempt at Kauto Star (although much of that was on McCoy) before an inept Tuffers attempt to describe Darren Clarke hoisted his side by the end. Tuffers described him as the 'king', and having gone to names like Christy O'Connor Jnr, O'Connell was highly unimpressed  by Tuffers' failure to say captain, rather than king.

Paulie did well not to lose it at Tuffers' prancing pole vault nonsense here too.

Tuffers apologised afterwards to say that he had "got flustered". Dawson and his team then took it safely home, winning on a final score of 22-20.

Disappointing for Paulie, but had he been the captain, it's fair to say things might have been different.

Thankfully, Irish rugby does not suffer from the same wonder.

See Also: Analysis: Jamie Heaslip's Appearance On A Question Of Sport 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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