Saturday, 10th February, 2024

[Day 1426]

Being a Saturday morning, we were looking forward to making contact with some of our coffee bar friends. As it turned out, we had coffee with the one of our friends who had attended her own husband’s funeral last Wednesday. Her husband was practically 90 and had sort of decided, for himself, that he no longer wished to eat or drink so it was fairly evident that he could not last a great deal longer. I think the overwhelming emotion of our friend was one of relief that everything was all over and now she had to continue with all of the post-death sequelae such as ensuring that her dead husband’s name was taken off joint bank accounts and the like. We are a little worried about a mutual friend (the chorister) who we normally see each Tuesday and each Saturday. But whilst we were in the Methodist Centre last Thursday we thought that we heard that our friend might have taken to her bed with a chest infection so we hope this is just a transient thing and that she quickly gets over this little setback. We also bumped into two other friends to whom we used to make a videocall once a week during the height of the pandemic but they have moved from their previous address and we have lost the kind of contact that we used to have them. They both have their share of health problems with which they are coping on a day-to-day basis but without the benefit of any carers at all. When we got home, we made a lunch of quiche with a ‘melange’ of vegetables to go with it. The vegetable mixture consisted of two small onions, some sweet peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and some petit pois with a dash of a garlic and tomato sauce to add a little bit of piquancy. This turned out to be delicious and whilst being a completely vegetarian meal, was nonetheless incredibly tasty and enjoyable.

We knew that we were going to enjoy some Six Nations rugby this afternoon and the first of these was Scotland vs. France at Murrayfield. Scotland were in the lead at half time and ten minutes before the end of the match were leading by six points. But then followed a ping pong period in which the backs from each side booted the ball up and down the field with each side waiting for a mistake and neither team making a decisive move. But then the French made a bold move and scored an opportunistic try which one always thought that they would, and then after a conversion led by one point. They then added three penalty points and Scotland needed a try to win the match. Then followed one of the most tense ends to a match it was possible to witness. Scotland did get the ball over the try line but the online decision of the referee was that the ball was held up i.e. no try. The video referee has to find ‘clear and compulsive evidence’ to overturn the on-field decision and then what we all saw on the video replay was the ball held up on a French leg and then rolled off it. So the ball was probably grounded but was there ‘clear and conclusive’ video evidence that this was the case and the answer is that there was not. So the try was not awarded even though on one video frame one saw the top of the ball roll over the leg but was the ball grounded? This is rather like the burden of evidence in a legal case when in a civil case the issue is decided on the ‘balance of probabilities’ whereas in a criminal case it has to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ So to summarise here, I think on the balance of probabilities, the ball was grounded but was there ‘clear and conclusive evidence’ to overturn the on field decision’ and one has to say there was not. So the rules of rugby were properly followed but the decision of ‘no try’ was decided on the tightest of margins and so the French were awarded the victory. Such fine decisions are not rare in rugby these days but in a case like today’s, the decision was agonisingly close and some members of the public reviewing the video evidence might conclude that the ball had actually been grounded and the try (and the match) should have been given to Scotland. This was one of the tightest and hardest decisions that a refereeing team have ever had to make but this is what makes the game so excruciatingly difficult to watch upon occasions. The match to which we had been looking forward was the England vs. Wales match and this, too, had echos of the previous game. The Welsh were leading at half time but like the French before them, one always had the suspicion that the England team would manage to overhaul the Welsh in the final stages of the game, The Welsh played with enterprise and flair and the English with a kind of gritty determination which proved to be decisive in the end. The margin here was only a couple of points and made for a tense and exciting finish (but it could not rival the knife-edge of the Scotland vs. France game). Tomorrow, we shall see Ireland vs. Italy which is probably the strongest team in the competition taking on the weakest, but we shall see.