I know nothing about rugby. I know men play it. I know women can play it. I know there are two teams that normally battle it out against one another. And I know that if you are Welsh you are supposed to know everything about it, girl or not.
My boyfriend knows a lot about rugby, and in a quest to retain the title of ‘World’s Best Girlfriend’ I thought it would be nice to let him buy me a ticket for the Rugby Internationals.
So, after a very exciting day which involved meeting John Inverdale, (and spending half the day trying to remember how to say his surname) and Jeremy Guscott – more on this later, I headed to meet him outside Cardiff Castle. Blackberry in hand, I thought I would do my best to capture cardiff on a rugby international.
Having lived in Cardiff for a while, I know the atmosphere can be electric on a game night. I have often gatecrashed die-hard rugby fans nights out in an aim to make my aimless, I don’t need an excuse to have a drink night better, but this was the first time I had been involved. It was bitterly cold in Cardiff last night, and not even the blue, twinkling fairy lights could warm us.
We headed over to gate 6, round the back of the Millennium Stadium on the bank of the River Taff and made our way into the ground. Leaving the boys to pick up some watery Carling, Jen and I bumped into our first hurdle. Someone was sat in our seats! Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. I am not one of those people who makes you move on an empty train just because the flimsy little ticket poking out of the back of your headrest does not match up with the one held in your ice, cold hand.
But the match was sold out – so we weren’t quite sure whether to check our eyesight or start a fight. Three stewards later, a lot of ticket checking, moaning and not much action – the lady in orange managed to make the impostors move. One row along.
Sat in the third row behind the Welsh goal – I think – they swap at half time, I witnessed it – we were able to warm ourselves from the pyrotechnics, which definitely symbolises the Welsh dragon, I began to feel a bit nervous. Why? Because the national anthem was coming up. I would have had more chance knowing the words and being able to sing along to The National Anthem by Radiohead – which by the way, are much easier and only have around three lines. Yet another reason to love Radiohead.
I am Welsh. But here’s the catch. I am the only person in my entire family tree to have been born here. No-one in my family is patriotic. My mum wanted me to take yellow and green ribbons so I could support Australia because my brother lives there. Consequently, I do not feel Welsh and do not know the words to the national anthem:
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur
I’r bur hoffbau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.
Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.
Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Gymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.
Never mind that Welsh has a ridiculous amount of ridiculous letters put in ridiculous places. Ngw? Come on..But here I was, surrounded by true rugby fans and proud to be Welsh McDiarmids (slightly ironic seeing as they hail from bonnie Scotland) and I didn’t have a monkeys. I got to the chorus and faded into the background. Singing and rugby in one night. This was a new one.
Kick off. When all things are equal.
Within the next 10 minutes, in my expert opinion, we had lost the game. I have been to two rugby games in the past month or so. The first one, was when the Cardiff Blues played some team from up North. Ross said that it “was the worst game he had ever been to.” After last night’s match I think he had something to compare it with.
For me, as an international virgin. I was rather disappointed. There was no atmosphere. Everything and everyone fell silent. Not even the faint cries of “oggy oggy oggy” could stir up Welsh spirits. Things got so bad that there was even a ruckus in the crowd behind us. And I thought this was a gentleman’s sport.
74,000 people stormed into the stadium hopeful and expectant. They left feeling rather dejected and a little bit robbed I would imagine. Having not bought the ticket, I was just grateful to be there. Double the pain for Ross, then.
Leaving early, we fell out onto the quiet streets of Cardiff. It was ice cold, the weather reflecting everyone’s spirits and pissing down on us. Sweet.
What do you do when you lose something that you care about? In Cardiff, you tend to get drunk and listen to some god awful music and steal a drunk Welsh girl’s, Welsh hat. But this, this is just too much. Hope you don’t find yourself in one of those incriminating photos…
Off to Barocco to dance with reckless abandon, grooving one’s hips and thinking that one is the world’s best girlfriend while doing the world’s best dance moves. Both are probably untrue.
My post-match commentary –
- Learn the words to your national anthem.
- Wear red.
- Don’t go to the bar on your own without some form of chav defence.
- And always, always make sure there is someone there to tell you when to cheer.