Irish Examiner Sports Column 8 January 2009

January 12, 2009

Bringing sex and spice to
the sliotar
and splice

JASMINE gasped as she saw the centre-
forward soar above his opponents on the 65-metre line. Her heart fluttered like a little bird’s might if it was being chased by an enormous dog as the faraway player landed with the sliotar, turned and struck it high and true over the crossbar.

“Who … who …”

She could barely speak, and when the centre-forward took off his helmet to reveal blue-black curls and penetrating blue eyes, she thought she was going to swoon, right there in the Old Stand in Semple Stadium just at the Kelly’s of Fantane sign —

Stop interrupting. You are coming
between this column and its new meal ticket, the as-yet-untapped potential of Irish sport as a backdrop to
commercial bonkbuster books.

We are deadly serious.

Our venture into the world of tall, dark and handsome heroes and even taller, darker and, er, more beautiful heroines comes hard on the heels of this week’s announcement that Mills and Boon are specifically focusing on rugby as a backdrop for a new series of their romantic novels.

“Our mission statement is to do for rugby what Jilly Cooper did for polo — to give it an air of sexiness and glitz and glamour,” series editor Jenny Hutton was quoted as saying during the week.

The company’s sales and marketing director, Clare Somerville, added: “You don’t have to like rugby to like the books.

“They have all the elements of a quintessential Mills & Boon romance: jet-set locations, hunky alpha-male heroes and hot sex, but in a rugby context.”

Information on the rules of rugby, along with tips on what to wear at matches, will also be included in the books.

In and of itself, this might solve a lot of sartorial disasters one sees on the terraces of sportsgrounds
everywhere, but that’s only a minor detail.

Not to be confused with the major detail: as Ingrid Bergman said in Casablanca: “Are those the German guns or my heart pounding?”

The wind picked out Tremenda’s delicate curls as it wound its way from one end of Turner’s Cross to the other, flapping flags, flattening grass, and bringing a flush to Baron Dynami’s cruel but irresistible jawline.

“Damn you,” he said to himself, unable to concentrate on the throw-in as one of Tremenda’s dimples winked at him, “How am I going to creel that Sligo Rovers
centre-forward when I must have that
imperious swan sitting level with the 18-yard-line at the old Shed End?”

The good people of Mills and Boon are, of course, taking on the master, or the mistress, in trying to emulate Jilly Cooper when it comes to mixing sport with an air of sexiness and

Having visited many a post-match dressing room, this column can
confirm that the air of Head and Shoulders Damage Rescue or Lynx Shower Snake Peel are far more
common fragrances when it comes to elite and not-so-elite sport.

Fear not, however.

As everybody knows, packaging is everything, and Mills and Boon launch their series with The Prince’s Waitress Wife — in which one love scene takes place in the president’s suite at Twickenham — on February 1, just before the start of the Six

A forthcoming book — The
Ruthless Billionaire’s Virgin — the heroine sings the national anthem, suffering a “wardrobe malfunction” from which she is saved by the chivalrous hero.

With titles like that, The Passion of the Third Midfielder, or Steamy Nights on the Drift Defence are
surely just around the corner (back). Or just around the corner if we could only be left back to our compositions. Now, back to our story!

Stonechest, the brawny yet oddly
sensitive and poetry-quoting prop, gulped back his whiskey to cool his raging nerves. Why, after facing down Il Gropa, the
Italian axe-murderer/full-back and
Carnivoreux, the child-eating number eight from Toulouse, was this slip of a girl causing him to lose his concentration?

He cast his mind back once more to the scene: the thunder and lightning at Tom Clifford Park, her unforgettable cheekbones, that blessedly brief gouging incident on the opposition 22 …

Hold everything. Back up the truck. There’s no such thing as a “slip of a girl” in this genre, but a “mere slip of a girl”; that’s better.

I think we’re onto something.



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