Ireland returned to Chicago's Soldier Field for an Autumn test against Italy this evening. After a blistering start to proceedings, the game (much like the surrounding crowd) became something of a non-event.
With a much-changed Ireland side selected, there was a degree of intrigue surrounding what a team of largely inexperienced players might deliver on a big-ish stage.
Sure enough, Munster's Tadhg Beirne, making his first start for Ireland, marked the occasion with an early try. When his fellow Munsterman Joey Carbery popped over the conversion, it looked a game that may fall very firmly in Ireland's favour.
Yet, as the time elapsed, and Nigel Owens' voice took greater prominence than any atmosphere one could locate within the sprawling venue, things just came to a relative standstill.
Very bright start from Ireland but the match has settled into a bit of stodge #IREvITA
— Richard Cantwell (@ManAboutCouch) November 3, 2018
Brutal. Thought it was going to be 60-0 after the first few mins. At least there's a sort of game breaking out. Sort of...
— Michael Foley (@MickFoley76) November 3, 2018
— Anna (@AnnaCF88) November 3, 2018
I can't understand why in an attempt to promote rugby in the US, they invite Italy to play Ireland to play in Chicago. Would they not try to get a bigger team than Italy? What's worse is neither side have put a strong team out. Low attendance with mostly Irish there. #IREvITA
— Edward Leonard (@newedleonard) November 3, 2018
For a backline consisting of Ringrose, Carbery, Larmour, Conway, and Stockdale, this is incredibly boring. #IREvITA
— The Loose Head (@TheLooseH) November 3, 2018
Massive let off there. A proper kick up the arse. Ireland haven't looked bothered since the opening ten minutes and have given Italy a platform here. #IREvITA
— Kristian Ross (@Kristian7Ross) November 3, 2018
Ireland need to up their game. Just sitting back and letting the Italians hold on to the ball #IREvITA
— Seán (@Sean8318) November 3, 2018
— Keith Mongan 🇺🇦 (@mongank) November 3, 2018
A second try would eventually come via Luke McGrath, but the whole spectacle really failed to enrapture many watching. When Italy grabbed a try of their own just before the break, the 14-7 lead seemed fair enough.
Not helping things was Luke Fitzgerald on co-commentary; the former Leinster and Ireland man a source of fierce distraction for those left cold by the rugby on show.
Luke Fitzgerald loves the sound of his own voice may as well get rid of the other chap #IREvITA
— Derek Maher (@dero1978) November 3, 2018
Is Luke Fitzgerald being paid per word he says. Slow down lad #IREvITA
— Roarz (@Roarzz) November 3, 2018
#IREvITA Luke Fitzgerald talks too much.
— Brian Hodge (@ebhodge) November 3, 2018
— Sarah C (@Sarahcasey80) November 3, 2018
— Paul White (@GrumpyTechie28) November 3, 2018