More than a Game…..This is Rugby
14 August 2011
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The contrast between the shameful scenes of teenage looters on our screens last week and the boisterous but peaceful crowds in Cardiff after the Wales v England game could not have been more stark.
When I arrived in the city on Friday it occurred to me and others that Cardiff has escaped the unwelcome attentions of gangs of young thugs looking for the latest designed trainers or plasma TV without feeling the need to to either pay or respect the property of others.
Our walk from the hotel to the Millennium Stadium took us past city centre bars teeming with supporters of both countries eagerly anticipating the match and the atmosphere inside the ground was electric. The closed roof amplified the singing of Delilah and Cwm Rhondda and Land of My Father was sung with such passion it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
That Welsh passion continued throughout the game on and off the field as the home defence somehow kept the dominant English from crossing the try line, before themselves dominating to score the only try of the game and claim victory. The crowd played their part with the English supporters managing to make Swing Low heard while their team was on top, but their Welsh counterparts delirious with joy at the final whistle.
Together with a couple of RFU Council colleagues we left the post-match reception early to visit a couple of bars in the city. We were wearing our blazers and ties which attracted a few odd looks but we passed through a sea of red and white shirts all celebrating the best of rugby; the friendship, the camaraderie and the telling of stories of games gone past.
As someone pointed out on Twitter, there were tens of thousands of people in the city centre drinking copious amounts of alcohol, but there was not a hint of trouble nor was there ever likely to be. Within a couple of hours of the match finishing, few really cared about the result because for all, with the possible exception of those at the very highest levels, this is really what our game is all about.
Some years ago the RFU had the strapline ‘More than a Game’ and for me that simple phrase sums it up.
This is Rugby and I’m proud to be a part of it.