In Wales we like to win but the process, the enjoyment of playing, having a go, is important, more important to us than any of the other home nations. Why is this? Well, firstly, lets be honest, we’re generally not the biggest – not in individual size anyway – playing an open game, taking, as Gerald Davies says, ‘calculated risks’, is a way around this – being faster, more alert, quicker on the feet and in the head. Then there’s the argument that we’re compensating for or celebrating our past; rugby’s often compared to battle or war, down the years we’ve often been brilliant at playing guerrilla warfare rugby, a sanctioned form of Owain Glyndwr rebellion. We’re the sons of Owain.
So all of a sudden we find ourselves going into a game with a squad consisting largely of players who recently finished their GCSE’s, who like to play a running game. What’s more, we appear to have spawned yet more youngsters who’s apparent dream in life is to identify the tallest, widest, most muscular member of the opposition and make him look like a fool; the appearance of Mathew Morgan, Rhys Webb, Liam Williams, Gareth Davies and Rhodri Williams is a sign that the players who largely made up the world cup squad are not a flash in the pan, that Shane might have reinvigorated Welsh rugby on his own. So who do we have to thank for these youngsters? Shane? David Moffett? The regions? Gatland? We know it can’t be the WRU, they might have been OK recently but I’ve still got the nagging feeing they’re going to sell the Millennium to Toyota next week. For a tenner.
No. None of these are responsible. When I said we’re the sons of Owain, it wasn’t pretentious, offensive, cultural analysis, well it was, but apart from that – it’s biologically true. Now you all know there’s no record of his death, meaning only one thing, he’s still alive and he’s sneaking around Wales shagging our wives. At his cheekiest he’ll nip in through the bedroom window, inject you with Ketamin while you sleep, and then get down to business while the Optimism Gnome has a wank in the corner. ‘Jesus, I’m late for work, why didn’t you wake me up?’ you’ll say in the morning to your wife / beloved / that girl who hung around The Oak a lot a few years ago, ‘Had to go to the launderette’, she’ll say, suddenly interested in the floor, slightly to the right. Then twenty years later your son’s stepped eight players behind his own line on his debut, made the English hooker knock himself out on one of the posts and whispered ‘You smell lovely’ to the giant meathead in the second row. As for the fabled ‘Fly Half Factory’, your missus ever gone to visit a relative in Panteg, a relative she’s never once mentioned before? Come back a bit refreshed did she? A bit reinvigorated perhaps? Hmm?
God knows where Jamie Roberts came from. Here’s hoping Shane does his father proud on the weekend.