All posts by Steve

Back At CAP

Just over three years ago I went along to the oddest – and most depressing – rugby match I’ve ever attended. Odder even than a 0-0 draw I witnessed years ago.

It was Cardiff Blues versus Edinburgh in the last match of the 08-09 season. It had been pencilled in as the final match at the Arms Park. A crowd of 11,000 turned up, the team had just come off a successful season and half a dozen of the squad were about to head to South Africa with the Lions. It should have been a celebration – and they tried hard to make it one with an after match ceremony acknowledging the past.

But the game was played out in a gloomy, down in the dumps atmosphere. This was it. It was the last time top flight rugby would be played at the ground and it seemed completely unreal. The rumours of what was being planned for the Arms Park didn’t help much.

When the South Terrace began booing Gareth Edwards I knew it was time to head out for a stiff drink and a lie down. I walked back down Westgate Street thinking, “God, so that’s it? It ends like that?”

When we went back – briefly – last season I had that day on my mind. The game against Connacht was pretty dire – and a smaller crowd of 8,000 or so packed into the Arms Park – but it was a mile away from the atmosphere at that Edinburgh game. We had 8,000 people pleased to be home, and a group of players feeding off their energy. As the crowd picked up, the tackles went in harder, opposition line out balls were stolen. No one could be any doubt that this was the team’s home.

When the whole Back to CAP thing built up a head of steam last season, some people – quite possibly sick of the 240,000,000 Arms Park threads on Gwlad – pointed out that going back to the Arms Park wouldn’t in itself be the answer to our problems. That’s perfectly true. But for a hundred reasons, being back at the Arms Park is essential if we’re going to start again and rebuild.
But the nay sayers were quite right about one thing: we’re not going to get anywhere with just misty eyed romanticism to keep things trundling on.

(Now, for some misty eyed romanticism…)

We’ve all got stories about players and matches we’ve seen at the Arms Park over the years. And until recently when we talked fondly about the Arms Park – that’s what we’d be talking about – the past.
The best thing about going back is that now we won’t have to talk about what Mike, Terry, Gareth, Gerald, Barry, Bleddyn or Dr Jack did. Its about what Harry Robinson, Cory Allen, Rhys Patchell and Ellis Jenkins can do. Its not about 1953, 1984 or 1998. Its about this season and fifteen, twenty, thirty seasons down the line. Its not about going back to what was, its about passing the torch. More than that, its about when this new generation are 35 years old, retiring and passing that torch on to their own successors. We’re not looking back, we’re kick starting something new. It’d be nice if it can stand proudly alongside what went before. It’d be even better if it blows apart what went before and surpasses it in every possible way. Its not a strip of turf with history, its a strip of turf that has yet to see its greatest days.

You might have a cherished memory of going to the Arms Park for the first time and seeing some great players who caught your imagination. Ringo, Rayer, TGR, Scotty, Holmesy, GOE, Simon Hill….
Friday night there’ll be 8 and 10 year old kids in that position. They might not know it yet but they’re about to get acquainted with heroes of their own. Its time for the old to move aside. I can’t wait.

It might not have occurred to anyone at CAP, but wouldn’t it be nice if Gareth Edwards makes a speech at half time? He might get a different response this time.

Wales in haka nonresponse shocker

WRU officials were blasted earlier today by senior NZRFU elders as reports emerged suggesting that Wales plan on not responding to the haka this autumn.

“We’re hearing that, instead of monkeying around with anthems, standing still, standing in an funny shape or throwing grass around, Wales plan on just watching the haka then getting on with the game. Its a clear break with tradition and is unacceptable,” said NZRFU President Corey Awwwmate.

Sources in Wales seem to back up the rumours, “We’re trying something different that is for shoo-er.” burbled an unnamed source, “Not messing around during the haka and then getting on with the game is certainly innovative but we’re building the right synchronicity between backs and forwards and putting the right systems in place etc etc,” said another source who would only be identified as Haun Sholley.

However, a solution to the crisis may come from the regions: “We invite the All Blacks, should they be unhappy with arrangements at the Millenium Stadium, to take their pre match haka across the city to our magnificent new home at the Cardiff (definetly not City) Stadium,” said (cardiff) BLUES Chairman Peter Thomas. “The stadium has modern haka disruption facilities second to none and I’m sure our supporters would love to see the programme of mascot racing, flag waving and innane chatter we have planned for them if they accept our offer.”

Magners Blasted By Spazmo

Magners League chiefs have strenuously denied claims that the competition is part of a thought control experiment.

Conspiracy theories began circulating on the internet last season when many began to believe that Newport Gwent Dragons outside centre Rory Sidey did not in fact exist. US based conspiracy website Spazmo.com offered a reward to anyone who could remember seeing Sidey on the field and could offer a description of him. Now Spazmo has upped the ante considerably by claming that whole matches televised by the BBC have been wiped from the memories of tv viewers.

“The Sidey thing, that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Denver based conspiracy theorist Dirk Heggerty, “Watch the Magners League regularly and its clear that someone somewhere is trying to mess with our minds. We’re being told that people sit at home every Friday to watch these games but can’t remember a single thing about them afterwards. It’s disturbing. We need to find out how deep this goes.”

This is not the first time Heggerty has turned his attention to Welsh rugby, “It all started back in the early 1990′s, when several Welsh internationals regularly appeared on team sheets but never appeared to do anything. We call it the Proctor anomaly. We believe thought experimentation within Welsh rugby could go back to the 70′s. Ever heard Max Boyce Live at Treorchy played backwards? That’s some freaky shit man.”