Australian Rugby Moustaches ‘Lack Irony’

Barbie loving scrummaging novices from Down Under have had the rug pulled from under their noses with the revelation that competing rugby nations are sporting Movember moustaches in a startling ironic fashion.

“We come over here every Autumn to grow a bit of bumfluff, beat Wales and shag our way around the freezing cold fleshpots of a post-industrial wasteland,” commented an Australian utility back with whiskers like a badger.  “Moronic maybe, but ironic?  Nah…  We had no idea we were raising money for prostate cancer awareness!  Struth, we’d have had a whip round mate.”

Wales meanwhile are rumoured to be seething with the news that all 38 Australian squad players will be rested for the next game under the pretence of ‘disciplinary action’, while 52 year old Bruce the kit man is sent out at Murrayfield to single-handedly beat Scotland with one hand tied behind his back.  “I’ve had hangovers my lad, but this is fookin ridiculous,” said teeth and bone specialist Shaun Edwards.  “We were going to spy on their training moves, but our analyst ended up in the pub scribbling notes on how to play Fuzzy Duck lying in 10 inches of puke and warm Fosters.”

Not everyone is paying Scotland such disrespect, as one world-renowned authority on rugby predictions claimed:

“The formality of beating Scotland aside, Wales are Australia’s next serious test in a winner takes all battle that promises to see the loser lose out on winning, while the winner takes the spoils for good measure,” said veteran rugby commentator and Terry & June superfan Ian Robertson, in a rare moment of blinkered clarity.  “Who’s Scottish?  Me?  No that’s Inverdale.  God Save Our Gracious Queen… Swing Low, Sweet Chariot…”

In Ten Seconds

You don’t have to have witnessed a serious injury on the rugby field to understand how it can literally change someone’s life in seconds. Rugby isn’t the only activity where brutality, danger and camaraderie sit side-by-side. Like soldiers going off to battle, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our mates on the pitch, ready to defend each other in the face of the opposition.

yogi

This book isn’t really about rugby at all, even though the life-changing event which befell Yogi Davies happened to take place on a rugby field. In fact it could have happened anywhere. This book is about the incredible compassion and resilience of people; families, friends and communities supporting someone they care for in their time of need.

Like the event itself, Yogi’s description of his fateful injury is over in seconds. But what followed in the six years afterwards is truly remarkable. In spite of a seemingly hopeless prognosis and near total paralysis, he was able to return home to his family in Bala.

The story of Yogi’s injury, its aftermath, his heroic struggle and determination to resume as normal a life as possible at home with his family is truly inspirational. There are also many moments of light relief. Yogi was definitely one of those characters you recognise from Welsh rural life. A mischievous young tearaway with a generosity and warmth you can’t fail to love. These qualities leap out of the page in Yogi’s own words.

What are the lessons we should learn from Yogi’s story? There’s the obvious ones about ensuring that we’re all trained to try to prevent injuries on the pitch, and also to know how to react in the immediate aftermath when they do occur. But as we know, these kind of accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. The real lesson here is that underneath the fragile muscles, tissues and bones, we show our true strength in the way in which we care for our fellow human beings when they need our help.

Bryan “Yogi” Davies died on Friday 30th August 2013 at his home in Bala.

“The Scrum That Changed My Life” is published by Y Lolfa.

Who beat the All Blacks?

If the lyrics of Max Boyce’s famous song are to believed, there’s only one Welsh team who’s ever beaten the All Blacks. But along with Llanelli, it should be noted that Cardiff, Swansea and Newport have accomplished the feat too.

The story of Newport’s victory on that dank, drizzly October afternoon in 1963 deserves to be told, not least because it features a roll-call of names to rival those of the Llanelli team of 1972. Brian Price, David Watkins and Glyn Davidge to name but three.

allblackandamberIn the end, the game hinged on a single drop goal from Dick Uzzell, but the truth is, an All Blacks side containing Colin Meads, Kel Tremain and Brian Lochore was hammered by Newport that day. That New Zealand side is arguably the greatest ever to leave their shores, better even than the side defeated by the Lions and Llanelli in the 70s.

Yes, it was 3-0, but back then, rugby was a different sport to the one we know today. International tours took months, rather than weeks, and our club sides were still allowed to play the tourists in front of 25,000-plus crowds on a Wednesday afternoon! Don’t forget, the players had day jobs too in those days.

Steve Lewis’ book takes us through the history of those mammoth tours, along with the background of the players involved and the historical context through which we view the match.

This kind of game would never happen these days, for many reasons. It is a shame. Call me an old romantic (I am, guilty as charged), but I would love to be able to watch my local club play an international touring side on a Wednesday afternoon, whatever the weather. These days, we get to see Wales playing the great southern hemisphere sides every Autumn, and it feels like the magic is diminishing every time.

Commentators are forever going on about the “intensity” and “physicality” (that’s not even a word, by the way; why can’t they just say “strength”?) of modern rugby. But back then it was just as brutal. And you could forget about having a couple of days’ “recovery” in the pool or gym after a big game. Back in the 60s and 70s you had to go back to work the morning after, or you risked losing your livelihood.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It provokes strong emotions and makes people forget the stark realities of everyday life. Today, rugby is a professional sport and there’s no time for sentimentality or looking backwards. That’s why stories like this are worth taking time to read. We need to remember that rugby is about a lot more than money, sparkly hats and fireworks. At its heart, rugby is about communities and people coming together to witness great sporting moments; brief occasions where we can put the trials of everyday life to one side and gaze in wonder at this beautiful, brutal game.

All Black and Amber by Steve Lewis is published by Y Lolfa.

O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau

Of the 15 men who took the field for Wales against South Africa yesterday, 5 were fluent Welsh speakers. As the clock ticked past five thirty, around 60,000 of us lustily sang our anthem, in Welsh.Yesterday afternoon, I wandered into the Welsh Rugby Union’s pop-up shop on the Hayes. They’ve got a new range of merchandise out. Can’t blame them for trying to make a few quid; it’s an expensive business keeping our talented players in Wales, not to mention paying the Chief Executive his £337,000 a year salary.

llwelyn scarf 330

The new merchandise is very stylish. Replica shirts, bobble hats and scarves. Emblazoned with Brand Wales.

That’s Brand Wales, not Brand Cymru. It appears that the WRU aren’t bothered with the Welsh language.

Don’t they care about our language any more? How long will it be before we hear calls for an english alternative to Hen Wlad Fy’n Nhadau to be sung before internationals?

Just think about the meaning of our National Anthem, and the final line that we all sing before the game, “O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.” What does it mean? “Long may the old language prevail.” What, exactly are the WRU doing to preserve our language? Not much, it would seem.

We know the WRU’s number one priority is money. Just look at the Autumn internationals. The annual cash cow where the players and the fans are the losers, and the WRU are the only winners.

It’s time to realise we’re being cheated by Roger Lewis, his six-figure salary, the insulting merchandise and these pointless money-making matches. Don’t buy any of this english tat. Instead, give a few quid to the Welsh Rugby Players’ Benevolent Trust.

Gwlad is NOT shit shocker! The Collective Consciousness of Sheep

Virtually every community in Wales has a rugby club. But how many virtual communities can boast the same?

There is one Welsh community based in the ether that has managed to create and actually play as an official rugby club.

GwladRugby.com RFC is a bona-fide, WRU registered club. Its players talk a lot about rugby, mostly bullshit, but rarely put on a pair of boots – outside the bedroom.

The halcyon days of their rugby prowess were not in their youth, it never happened. Rose-tinted, redefined memories. Their ability improved with age, their proximity to once being a shoe-in for a Welsh Cap becomes closer with every new inflammation of their piles.

But how can a chat forum have the ubiquitous posts visible in every village and town of Wales? Posts are the remit of PhilBB, post-master general, no greater erector of posts than he. And unlike the askew and rusty posts in the villages, the posts of Gwlad are a paragon of spelling, grammar and punctuation. This mostly due to Chili, the pedant master, a man whose sole purpose is to keep posts straight and correct.

So GwladRugby RFC gets to play on Cardiff Arms Park. PhilBB is upset, it’s HIS ground and HIS favourite club – we feel like the son-in-law who didn’t ask the bride’s father for her hand.

Timekeeper for the match? It’s not Gouldina, he doesn’t have a watch – he thinks the world can be run from an Android phone – he needs to tell ATTR, the Ref.

And so it is, a bunch of bullshitting rugby fans have the collective wherewithal to organise a charity match at Cardiff Arms Park on the day of the Wales v. South Africa International match. A game against Magor Vets – we’re assuming Veterans rather than animal doctors.

The cause is in support of the family of Stuart Williams, the Ponty Prop, who died suddenly on 21st October.
So it’s 9th November, noon kick-off and donations via www.justgiving.com/GwladMagor2013

If the players can get off the computer and make an effort the least ewe can do is pop along and support.