The Heineken Cup is one of the great events on the world rugby calendar. Photo: Reuters
It was a blue weekend in Europe. Not the blue of recession or depression for a change, but rather the blue of Chelsea and the blue of Leinster, European champions both.
Fortuitously I was there, in quite different environments, and couldn't help feeling a little jealous as a result.
Europe has some natural advantages over equivalent tournaments in the southern hemisphere, distance being one, diversity another, and – dare I say it – passion a third (although AFL fans could rival most).
Mind you, there was scant diversity among the tightly-packed patrons in the Chelsea pub from where I watched their penalty shootout with Bayern Munich.
In fact, as genuine neutrals, our rugby trio was the only diversion for ardent Chelsea supporters, but being drenched in showers of warmish lager after Didier Drogba's winning penalty kick quickly nurtured our strongest chameleon instincts – it would have been rude not to go along for the ride.
Yet that was just the end of my journey. I had been to Twickenham, the home of English rugby, to witness Leinster's 42-14 victory in the Heineken Cup over their fellow Irishmen Ulster.
Twickers was not at its most genteel on Saturday and the bipartisan support played your emotions like a game of tennis.
I arrived believing I was the net, but found myself lurching erratically between new-found friends and loyalties.
It was some show, the extremes of which we do not quite experience in Super Rugby.
That's not to say southern hemisphere supporters are not as passionate, but we just express ourselves differently, very differently. Perhaps it's because divides run deep in the north.
Geography might position them closely in the atlas but war, religion and various other forms of angst have driven them apart.
Ulster and Leinster are a good example. While perhaps not as relevant these days, this battle has variously been flavoured Protestant v Catholic; North v South; Loyalist v Republican. It diminishes some of Australia's rivalries to little more than “he said, she said”.
And perhaps because of this heritage, team loyalty runs deep. So much so that, despite the clear agony of their imminent defeat, the Ulster supporters never stopped singing.
All that changed was their intent as, come the last, their voices took on the proportions of warm blankets to wrap around their boys and comfort their fall; for though they failed, they had done so with valour.
It had little in common with an emptying Sydney Football Stadium, with Waratah supporters rushing to their cars spraying invective along the way.
And of course the Leinster supporters were in clover, as they so verdantly put it, creating new legends as third-time champions.
The Heineken Cup final has become one of the most compelling rugby events on the world calendar.
With 24 teams in contention, it represents the best club sides from each of the Six Nations.
In its 17 years, English and Irish teams have now won six championships apiece and French teams have won the tournament five times (including Toulouse, who have the record with four).
But although the spoils have been shared across three nations, significantly the Irish have won five of the past seven tournaments – a wonderful achievement for a nation with hardly 20 per cent of the senior playing numbers of their Gallic and Anglo-Saxon rivals.
Their run of victories highlights Australia's and South Africa's paucity of success in Super Rugby, although we have to deal with New Zealand rugby teams, who are consistently the best in the world.
The Irish derive much of their strength from condensing their talent, rather than spreading it thinly.
Though they have four provinces, it is Leinster, Ulster and Munster that harbour most of their internationals, including the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, man of the match Sean O'Brien, Jonathan Sexton, and Rory Best.
Australian provincial teams might fare better if our talent was divided by three rather than five, but with more than twice the number of senior male players than Ireland, we should continue to think long-term and national.
Yet analysis can detract from celebration and this weekend, amid the gloom of impending economic doom, a few parts of Europe rediscovered joy. In football it was all Chelsea and in rugby it was Eire abu, Ireland forever.