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Ratatouille would do well to ponder Nobody's philosophy.

Byline: By Carolyn Hitt

After Welsh rugby had been put in the stocks by Kiwi hack Chris Ratatouille (sic) - if he can't spell Bleddyn Williams, I'm not checking his name either - a few well-aimed verbal tomatoes came his way from Barbara from Caerphilly.

Fair play, Barbara really gave him a roasting on a daily phone-in. Mike from Swansea, however, agreed with much of the ingredients of the diatribe, even if the 'village idiots' insult left a sour taste.

It was interesting to hear how many Welsh rugby fans concurred with Ratatouille's view that we're rubbish. Which just goes to show we shouldn't fret about outsiders slagging us off when we're so good at doing it ourselves.

Twelve thousand miles away in Australia, covering rugby league, the laconic Ratatouille was stifling a yawn. Welsh rugby is evidently his sedative of choice.

He did manage to stay awake long enough to admit he hadn't been to Wales since 1995 (the sell-by date of most of his opinions) and he 'didn't know what the setup is these days'.

And then he resorted to every columnist's defence - it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek anyway. But did the humour have to be quite so mean-spirited? No worries, as they say in antipodean realms - apparently Ratatouille is not known for his insights on the union game.

A website posting from a Kiwi called Zinny declared, 'Mate, he knows as much about rugby as my grandma's undies.' And with that telling lingerie metaphor, let us not linger any longer on the musings of one New Zealand journo.

The only person from Down Under worth listening to on Thursday was in Cardiff's Royal Hotel. Incidentally, the latter has undergone a chi chi transformation. Those who can remember the positively Bacchanalian post-match gatherings in the Captain Scott room of yesteryear will have dewy-eyed memories of beer, pasties and the stickiest carpet in the capital.

The wood panelling remains, but visitors will no longer be rooted to the spot by a rogue Brains SA stain. It's now a pretty stylish joint, and as such it provided a suitable backdrop for one of the classiest figures in world rugby - former Australia captain John Eales.

The man they call Nobody - because 'Nobody's perfect' - was the speaker at the inaugural S4C sports dinner and lecture.

Achieving the rare and delightful feat of speaking for a 60 minutes on rugby without a single swear word, Eales laced his lecture with humour and anecdotes.

But it was his thoughts on leadership, the team ethic and the welcome of rugby's global family that made the most impression.

'There is nothing more repugnant to me in sport than arrogance,' he said. Not a sentence you expect from an Australian. But as someone who has reached the very zenith of the game, Eales knows the importance of reacting to achievement with humility - unlike a certain New Zealand hack who responds to the invincibility of the All Blacks by bitching about their lesser opponents.

Eales' sporting philosophy is one Ratatouille would do well to ponder.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 25, 2006
Words:506
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