They’ve got goats…
10 February 2017
Posted by on
Travelling to Cardiff for the Wales v England game I can’t help but think back to the games I have seen at the Principality Stadium. This will be the fifth Six Nations game I have seen there but it was a World Cup warm up game in 2011 which has the fondest memories. It was played in the summer on a beautiful warm sunny day and to be honest I can’t remember who won (I think it was the Welsh). But it was post match when the fun began.
I left the players’ dinner early with fellow Council Member Alex Murphy and went into the city which was a sea of red and white shirts as tens of thousands of English and Welsh supporters flooded the pubs and bars and celebrated the game of rugby and the healthy rivalry between the two nations. Alex and I were wearing our RFU blazers and we were submitted to good-natured banter from both sets of fans. The partying went on late into the night and I as far as I was concerned all was well with the relationship between the two old rivals.
Then came the nightmare of 2013 when an inexperienced England team was intimidated by a hostile crowd in a Grand Slam decider with Wales winning 30-3. Cardiff was not a happy place to be for an Englishman having to watch the Welsh celebrations on the pitch, then walking back to the hotel for the post-match function wearing and England Rugby coat I was verbally abused more than once. It wasn’t any different when England won in 2015 as I was called the same sort of names after that game too.
Clearly, playing England matters for the Welsh rugby fan and I had been fooled into a false sense of camaraderie in 2011, but I should point out that the majority of our friends over the bridge are nothing but good-natured and friendly to the English. This time around I will be better prepared.
Certainly the players will know what to expect and it wouldn’t surprise me if Eddie Jones played them parts of the 2013 game to remind them about the Welsh crowd and how intimidating they can be. His pre-match press conference alluded to Welsh ‘shenanigans’, referring to the attempt two years ago to get the England team out on the pitch early on a very cold evening and make them wait there while the Wales team stayed in the warm. My favourite phrase from Eddie was ‘They’re a cunning lot, the Welsh….they’ve got goats, they’ve got daffodils, they’ve got everything!’. Wales is probably better known for its sheep rather than its goats but I’ll wait to see if either play a part in the Welsh game plan.