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Rugby our national game? Even the flaming boat race is better.

Byline: Steve Tucker

IF you believe the hype, the next few weeks will see a cross between the second coming and the final revelation of the meaning of life hitting our nation.

For a select few of us in Wales though it will just be 15 fat blokes fighting with 15 other fat blokes in a muddy field, oh, and there'll be a ball involved - somewhere!

Wales' obsession with the Six Nations is as unfathomable as it is boring. Equally inexplicable is rugby's status as the "national sport of Wales".

Did I miss the meeting? Who made such a decision? They certainly weren't speaking for me, a guy born in Cardiff and as fiercely proud to be Welsh as anyone.

Why, oh, why have the Welsh nation bought into this game? Sure, they play it in France and Italy too, but in Italy Francesco Totti breaking a finger nail would get more coverage than their rugby team winning the Six Nations and quite rightly too. I mean have you seen Totti's nails - lovely!

I'll be honest, every time Six Nations' time comes around I cannot help but smile.

All year the likes of the Blues and the Ospreys, the Dragons and the Scarlets have been playing in front of fewer people than attend your average Vernon Kay Appreciation Society meeting.

But come Wales v Ireland at the Millennium Stadium and we Welsh find a patriotism which Owain Glyndwr might have thought over the top. From across the nation they spew forth. Bearded sages coming over all Dylan Thomas about the joys of the old Pontypool front row and women in sparkly cowboy hats who wouldn't know one end of a scrum from the other.

But going to the rugby for the craic is what we do, isn't it? Let's face it the Six Nations is sport for people who don't like sport.

For those of us who follow the beautiful game - football - and who live in the capital, any Wales home Six Nations game means our city centre is strictly out of bounds.

The streets are populated with rugby fans who drink enough alcohol to pickle a blue whale and stagger their way along St Mary Street in a fashion that if indulged in by football supporters would lead to public hangings.

Come on, all we ever hear about is Cardiff monopolising everything in Wales, if that's the case I'm more than happy to see a few Six Nations internationals shipped out to Bangor or Bala or anywhere that's not our capital city. I'm sure the people of Cardiff would welcome the break.

But it'll never happen because nobody up north cares about our national game anyway.

On the pitch, the Six Nations has to be one of the most boring sporting spectacles in creation and, yes, I'll include the flaming university boat race in that too. Actually, thinking about it, if they put the boats on fire I just might watch that. If they put the rowers on fire I'll definitely watch it.

Back with rugby, like all unappealing sports, it just has too many rules.

It's the same reason why we are not all legging it out to watch the World Orienteering Championships next month.

In rugby, to get started, someone passes the ball, a load of blokes jump on top of him and the referee blows his whistle for some form of infringement which nobody comprehends. Repeat ad infinitum.

It will never match the purity of football, the sheer scope and creation of the beautiful game.

I suppose that's why football really is the global sport whilst rugby is, in the main, confined to a handful of nations who basically had egg-chasing forced upon them by English colonialists.

Six Nations - sod it, I'm off to Bangor for a break.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 31, 2010
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