Saturday, February 05, 2005

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

It could have been such a bad week.

Instead, millions of brave infidels defied the head-choppers and suicide bombers to vote in the Iraqi elections.

The Holy Father, peace and long life be upon him, is improving.

And my beloved Land of Bastards beat the Saesneg 11-9.

I would fail Tebbit's cricket test if it applied to rugby. Though I think of myself as English, despite having little English blood, when Six Nations time comes round I'm a small boy again, sat on the floor of my grandmother's front room in Cwmbwrla. Every chair is occupied, attention to the game (on a 405 line black and white TV) total until half time, when everyone gets up quickly to make tea, drink tea, go to the toilet. The half-time breaks in rugby were shorter then.

Forty years later I, and the surviving uncles and aunts still ring round after full time to discuss the game. It was a long chat tonight.

Not a great game of course for a neutral - errors all over the place. But for Wales it's so important to be the team that just wins by a point of two, rather than just losing as they did against New Zealand and South Africa last autumn, and against New Zealand and England in the World Cup.

They nearly blew it though. Stephen Jones, so good a kicker with the ball in his hands, repeated his World Cup performance against England. Wales failed to spot overlaps and kept giving away posession on the England 5-metre - sorry, 6 yard line. But this time Wilkinson wasn't on the pitch.

New England cap Mat Tait had a baptism of fire reminiscent of the hammering Arwel Thomas got from England, twice hit with tackles that lifted him off his feet. On the second occasion Gavin Henson ran forward a couple of yards holding the England player (who still held the ball) horizontally under one arm. In every living room in Wales men leapt from sofas to their feet. We like to see that sort of thing.

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