I’m Welsh. Being a Welsh person in Wales (or anywhere around the world), means that on MUST watch and support rugby. In Wales, rugby is a passion, a calling, a religion. My first childhood years are sitting in my bedroom listening to my father, his work mates, and the neighbours yelling at the small box in the corner known as the ‘telly’ whilst Wales was on. There was lots of screams, profanities and “For God’s sake, get the ball!” Saturday afternoon when the rugby was showing, was like attending church, but with a lot more swearing going on. One memorable year, I spent the rugby afternoon redecorating my bedroom. I remember it was a warm Saturday afternoon, and my bedroom windows were open. I can still recall the shouts of glee when Wales scored, from downstairs in the living room, to the shouts of the neighbors across the road…’Come on, Wales!’ will always be a part of my memories.
Our next door neighbor was an Indian man, and a great friend of my father. Saga was in charge of the hottest curries ever, which were usually eaten after the game, and digested in glee if we had won, or to add to our sorrows, if we had done the unthinkable and lost a match. The biggest disappointment of losing, was losing to England. Any Welshman will tell you that ‘We don’t mind losing to anyone but the English!’ If ever they lose to the English, the moans can be heard across this small but significant land – from the mountains in north Wales and up and down the valleys of south Wales. All are united in the joy or disappointment of a Welsh rugby outcome.
In those days (around the 70’s) the Welsh team was on a roll. The top team players were Gareth Edwards, Mervyn Davies, and JPR Williams. This was the days before rugby became a professional sport, so the players had jobs as well, and played rugby for the pure honour of ‘playing for Wales.’ JPR Williams, for example, was a doctor, so he was regarded as a god where he worked at the hospital. They were all gods in our eyes, because they played for their country, the passionate and irreplaceable Wales.
The Six Nations Cup (Known as the Five Nations before Italy got involved), was, and always will be, the most important event in a Welshman’s calendar (not forgetting the women and children!). For a Welshman, it means that the red colours can be worn, with the leeks, daffodils and Welsh dragons that add to the passion of a Welsh rugby supporter. So, on the Six Nations Day when Wales is playing against Ireland in the Millennium Stadium at Wales’ capital, Cardiff, the daffodils will be flying around the stadium, and the Welsh songs will be in full force. They’ll be singing ‘Land of Our Fathers,’ and chanting ‘Oggi, oggi, oggi, oi, oi, oi!’ with a fervor that has to be seen to be believed. Rugby runs through Welsh Celtic blood, and is a part of our very existence… and long may it be so.