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Photo by Dan, who was there.

I’m not a Cardiff RFC fan, let alone a Cardiff Blues fan. I’m not from Cardiff, although I did live in that god-forsaken chavish hellhole (initially next door to a Canton drugdealer who used to deal with domestic strife with Mrs Drugdealer by running out into the street, picking up a brick and chucking it through his own front window) for 10 years. But I had a blast in the ‘diff.

I used to go to Cardiff Arms Park regularly. I used to go even before I moved to Cardiff. I went there first to watch my village, Waunarlwydd, play in the Schweppes Cup in 1979. I was five years old, Waun got battered, but I knew I was somewhere special. I went with mates from school in about 1990 to watch another Schweppes Cup game, this time an awful effort between Cardiff and Llanelli in a monsoon. I stood at the front of the North Terrace, got soaked, and climbed over the fence to run on to the pitch at the end (I’m still washing bits of mud from between my toes now). I shouted myself hoarse watching a Nigel Walker try beat Bath in the Heineken Cup in 1997. I saw Llanelli win the last proper club league title in 2002 with a late penalty (after Peter Rogers, of all people, had scored after a lovely arcing outside break on the left wing). I used to love its location. I could take some common clobber into work, change, walk to the City Arms or the Green Parrot, have a few pints, stroll across to the game, and stroll back. Or I’d go to the clubhouse (upstairs only, cos I’m common) to watch an international when Wales were playing away. It’s a special place, and even for a Jack-born Turk, it holds special memories.

I left Cardiff before they moved out to the Cardiff City Stadium, but even from my new vantage point in Snowdonia 1890, it obviously wasn’t working. A mate who was a lifelong Cardiff supporter (just the one, I do have standards you know), bought a £20 ticket for the first game, sat way out in the corner, and spoke to people afterwards who’d sat near the halfway line having been given tickets in Asda that morning. He didn’t go back.

Today, Cardiff’s professional rugby team play their first game at their proper home for a few years. It’s Connacht, it’s a 6 Nations Friday, the venue was switched from the Lego Stadium with three days notice, and it’s a sell-out. And this has made me happier than pretty much any domestic rugby story in years.

I hope all those Cardiff Gwladers who’ve wound themselves into a frenzy all week had a cracking night back at their real home. And I hope you have many, many more nights like tonight.

Dyddiau da

Gyda Pencampwriaeth y 6 Gwlad ar fin cychwyn a gyda’n tîm cenedlaethol yn wynebu’n gwrthwynebwyr selocaf ddydd Sul, bu’n ddadlennol cofio’n ôl at ddigwyddiadau’r oes a fu. Neu, i fod yn gwbl gywir, nôl yr holl ffordd i’r Hydref diwethaf, a thaith cofiadwy Cymru trwy Seland Newydd a Chwpan Rygbi’r Byd 2011. Yn enwedig y bore eithriadol o gynnar a welodd tîm ofnadwy o ganol ffordd a gwan Iwerddon yn derbyn eu llawn haeddiant yn y rowndiau go-gynderfynol.

Efallai i’r siwrne gwpla yn nhorcalon cerdyn Sam, anafiadau Rhys ac Adam a’r anallu – gyda’r chwaraewyr ar eu gliniau dan blinder – i greu’r un cyfle tyngedfennol am driphwynt a fyddai wedi ymestyn yr antur – ond roedd hon yn bencampwriaeth i’w cofio ac i’w thrysori. Anaml iawn y gellid dweud hynny am hanes Cymru yng Nghwpan y Byd.

Wyn Gruffudd oedd prif sylwebydd S4C yn Seland Newydd, ac mae yma – yn ‘Dyddiadur Cwpan y Byd 2011’ a gyhoeddir gan Y Lolfa – ei atgofion o holl gemau Cymru. Mae yna ymweliadau â’r cynhadleddau i’r wasg cyn ac ar ôl y gemau, sgyrsiau llai ffurfiol gydag aelodau’r garfan a – diolch i rhaglen S4C a olygai mai dim ond 9 gem y bu angen i Wyn sylwebu arnynt – digon o gyfle iddo a’i gyd-deithwyr brofi lletygarwch unigryw trigolion Gwlad y Cwmwl Wen. Cawn glywed am nosweithiau allan ar y pop, am ymweliadau â thafarndai Cymraeg, am deithiau i mannu pertaf y wlad, ac obsesiwn Derwyn Jones gyda cadw’n heini…

Ceir toreth o straeon difyr ac o luniau da yma, ac edrychaf ymlaen at y rhifyn nesaf yn y gyfres, sef “Camp Lawn Wyn Gruffudd 2012”.

The Six Nations Rugby Quiz Book

With the Six Nations upon us, many rugby fans will be travelling by train, bus and car to watch the big games.

The Six Nations Rugby Quiz Book is just what you need to test your companions’ rugby trivia knowledge in between trips to the buffet car for a round of beers.

Gwladrugby has a copy of Matthew Jones’ new book to give away.

All you have to do is answer the following question:

Ireland won their first triple crown since 1985 in 2004. Who was man of the tournament?

Email your answers to admin@gwladrugby.com. Deadline for entries is 3pm on Sunday 5th February. The winner will be chosen at random and we will contact you via email if you’ve won.

The competition has now closed. The answer to the question was Gordon D’Arcy. Thanks to all those who took part. The winner will be announced shortly.

The Six Nations Rugby Quiz Book is published by Y Lolfa.

Welsh Dublin Go-ers advised: “Bring ewer kit”.

Warren Gatland asked all travelling Welsh supporters heading for the smouldering euro-rubble that used to be Dublin if they wouldn’t mind packing their Wales shorts, socks and boots as well as their 2XL shirts.

Gatland issued the desperate plea as he compared the Welsh training camp to a scene from Platoon. At the rate players were dropping out, the beleaguered coach calculated that he would be through the entire squad, the under 20s, the regional players, the entirety of Welsh-qualified club players, promising school kids and Steve Shingler by 9.30 on Saturday night. Meaning that Gatland was looking solemnly at the travelling army of pie-chomping amateur lager drinkers and their harem of shrieking glittery cow-girls, lurking at the bottom of the barrel. “Four sucks fake”, said Gatland, or something similar.

Far from being downhearted at this turn of events, a significant number of fans were in exuberant mood at the prospect of earning their first cap. “I’d prefer it to be in Cardiff, natch”, said Lee ‘Burger King’ Jones of Tredegar. “At 39 I’d started to think the chance might have gone, but I knew if I just hung around stadiums long enough with my kit underneath my pulling clothes, the door was always open. I’m putting my hand up big time, and in all fairness, I slept in a hedge last Saturday on the way home from the curry house. In these temperatures that’s got to be on a par with anything the boys did in Poland”.

Bodies everywhere

Kate Roberts, 27 of Port Talbot was similarly undaunted: “My Grandkids say I’m the easiest-going girl around, but if you chuck four Smirnoff ices down me on an empty stomach and a sight of Ronan O’Gara I go ‘Nagasaki’ big-style. Stick me at 7 and I’ll have him on toast.”

Others like 54 year old builder ‘Tubs’ Parry of Llanishen, were a little more realistic. “This time of year my arthritis means I take a while to get going, but if it’s holding up a scrum against Cian Healy that’s wanted, I reckon I can give them 60 minutes tops.”

"I'll take ewe all on"