In an ideal world, the rules would be black and white, everyone would play by them and the referee would act as little more than a timekeeper. In such a scenario, skill would undoubtedly be rewarded and the best players would be able to shine time and time again.
That, however, is not a reality and even if it was, it's fair to suggest that it may not even be something that we'd want to see. Up to a point, we all love to see to 'a bit of needle'. Sport is only sport when you get to pull it apart afterwards and feel a deep sense of injustice at every little decision. If it was a pure meritocracy, we'd all get bored after a while. Sport, like life, is nothing without a bit of controversy.
Which brings us to the French. There was once a time where the words 'flair' and 'mercurial' were only trotted out in this country when it was time to prepare ourselves for a Gallic spanking but now times have changed. Recent converts to the annual festival of second class rugby that is the Six Nations could be forgiven for thinking that French rugby is based around the plan to get the likes of Mathieu Bastareaud into as many positions as possible and watch him cause havoc.
In this new world order, Ireland are the blunt nail and the French are the cheap hammer. That's not to say that we've inherited their flair of course but there's a good argument to be made that, with the departure of Paul O'Connell, Ireland have lost the last real link to a group of players that simply wouldn't have put up with what the French have been doing to Sexton in recent years.
Definitely an afternoon for the Claw and Trevor Brennan. #darkarts
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) February 13, 2016
That was at half time on Saturday and, to be quite honest, it was a throw away comment which we didn't think much about it until this comment caught our attention on Facebook. It came under our post on The Telegraph's take on the 'disgrace' that was the French targeting of Johnny Sexton.
The decision to target him was a disgrace. The referees inability to deal with was a disgrace. The lack of a proper punishment for Yoann Maestri was a disgrace but what of the Irish response?
Not everyone is going to agree with that but it's certainly a conversation that's worth having and it's an opinion that's going to have plenty of backers. The French targeted Sexton because Ireland allowed them to.
Brennan, Clohessy and Quinlan are products of a different school of rugby. One without television replays and citing commissioners looking at every aspect of the play. They could get away with an awful lot more than the current Irish players can but even at that, is there an argument that Joe Schmidt's Ireland are a soft touch that's there for the taking?
That's not to say we're talking about Sean O'Brien at the World Cup style revenge but it's certainly not a million miles removed from it either. The French attacked Ireland because they could. It's not about commending them for getting away with the cheap shots on Sexton or the high tackle on Dave Kearney but at the end of the day, they're coming away as winners and Ireland are once again back to licking our wounds.
In a game like that, perhaps the likes of Clohessy or Quinlan would have made all the difference.