Archive for RBS Six Nations

Not the Six Nations

Posted in Biographical, Rugby with tags , , , , on February 18, 2017 by telescoper

After a misty morning it has turned into a lovely Spring-like afternoon here in Cardiff. I’ve been in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University this morning, helping out with a UCAS visit day by interviewing some prospective students and then having lunch and chatting with parents and others.

As well as the weather and the admissions season, another indication of the passage of the seasons is the Six Nations rugby. Our Saturday UCAS visit days have to be arranged with the RBS Six Nations fixture list in mind because Cardiff gets incredibly busy when Wales are playing at home. The capacity of the Millennium Principality Stadium is well over 80,000 which, for a City with a population of just over 300,000 represents a huge perturbation. 

Not only is there a lot of traffic and a very crowded city centre, but it’s also very difficult to find hotel accommodation at a reasonable price on match weekends.  Given that we start in the morning, quite a few prospective students and their families do stay overnight beforehand so this is quite an important consideration. There are no fixtures in the RBS Six Nations this weekend. Today two of my interviewees had travelled quite a long way to get to Cardiff – one from Richmond in North Yorkshire and another from Falmouth in Cornwall – and both families stayed over last night.

Anyway, while I’m not talking about the Six Nations I can’t resist mentioning last week’s match here in Cardiff between Wales and England. I didn’t have a ticket. I’ve ever really figured out how to get tickets for these matches. They always seem to be completely sold out as soon as they go on sale.

Before the match, I thought it was going to be a close game but Wales always have tremendous home advantage at Cardiff and I thought they might just sneak it. It was a rather dour struggle to be honest, but with less than ten minutes to go Wales were leading 16-14 and my suspicions seemed about to be confirmed. However, as is often the case with close matches, it was an error that produced the decisive moment.

About five metres out, Wales turned possession over and then rucked successfully, the ball eventually going to Jonathan Davies behind his own try line. With half of his team trying to disentangle themselves from the completed ruck, it was essential for him to clear his lines by kicking into touch. Unfortunately, he kicked straight down the field where his kick was collected by George Ford. England’s counter-attack was swift and lethal: Ford to Farrell and then to Elliott Daly on the wing, who went over for the try to the sound of groans all round Cardiff. After the conversion it was Wales 16 England 21, which is how the game ended a few minutes later.

The results of the other games so far mean that the only team capable of winning a grand slam is England, as each of the other teams has lost at least one game. There’s still a long way to go, however, and England still face challenging matches against Ireland and a much-improved Scotland.

Anyway, all this UCAS malarkey means that I’m way behind on Saturday crossword duties, so I’m going home. Toodle-pip.

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Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Posted in Rugby with tags , , , on February 6, 2015 by telescoper

Today marks the start of this season’s RBS  Six Nations Rugby, which kicks off at 8.05pm at the Millennium Stadium  in Cardiff with Wales versus England. The town will be buzzing in the evening, overrun with rugby fans in various states of drunkenness but with that extra special atmosphere that makes this such a fantastic place to be on such occasions, even if you’re not in the ground. It promises to be a bit chaotic, but it’s always an extra special day in Cardiff when the old adversaries meet. I’m heading off this afternoon in order to get there in time, and spending the weekend in Cardiff.

The Six Nations is a difficult competition to predict, but I think Wales must be strong favourites to win this particular match as England have had to cope with a number of injuries to key players.  However, there is one battle whose outcome you can bet your bottom dollar on, and that’s the crowd singing. That one  is always won by the Welsh.

Get a load of this example, from a few years ago which at least gives some idea what I’m talking about. This is the stirring  Welsh National Anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers). And if you feel like singing along, here are the lyrics (in Welsh, of course):

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,
Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.

Chorus:
Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd;
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i fi.

Chorus

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

Chorus

 

UPDATE: the Big Match didn’t turn out quite as I expected. Wales were all over England early on, taking a 10-0 lead. But once they had steadied themselves England began to claw their way back into contention. With the half-time score at 16-8 the game still looked to be heading for a Welsh victory. However in the 2nd half England’s more disciplined approach paid dividends. The English pack, compact and powerful, began to make deep inroads into the Welsh defence and gradually established a stranglehold on the game. Thirteen unanswered points in the second half gave England a memorable victory on a dramatic night. Wales 16 England 21.

 

It’s that time again…

Posted in Music, Rugby with tags , , on February 12, 2012 by telescoper

Today was the day for the first home game of the RBS Six Nations for Wales, so Cardiff was absolutely buzzing with that special atmosphere that only rugby and an influx of 80,000 people into a city with a population of 325,00 can bring. I was out and about earlier on but had to watch the game on TV as I lack the wherewithal to get tickets for occasions of such immensity. Wales were red-hot favourites for this game, and won comfortably enough in the end against Scotland although the game was closer than the 27-13 scoreline might suggest; Scotland had a try incorrectly disallowed, which might have made all the difference. The Scots fans also played their part, some of them camping out in the park near my house in the freezing cold for two nights before today’s game, and offered a fine rendition of Flower of Scotland before the kick-off. But there’s something special about the Welsh National Anthem on days like this. I’m glad they’ve dispensed with the professional pop singers that they’ve sometimes used to lead the singing. Wales is a nation that doesn’t need to pay people  to sing for it…

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Posted in Rugby with tags , , , on February 4, 2011 by telescoper

Today marks the start of this season’s RBS  Six Nations Rugby, which kicks off at 7.45pm at the Millennium Stadium here in Cardiff with Wales versus England. The town will be buzzing in the evening, overrun with rugby fans in various states of drunkenness but with that extra special atmosphere that makes this such a fantastic place to be on such occasions, even if you’re not in the ground. It promises to be a bit chaotic, but it’s always an extra special day in Cardiff when the old adversaries meet. I’m going to head off home slightly earlier than usual in order to avoid the crush and to get home in time to watch the match on TV.

The Six Nations is a difficult competition to predict, at least in terms of the results of the rugby games, but there’s one battle whose outcome you can bet your bottom dollar on, and that’s the crowd singing which is always won by the Welsh. I’ll probably be able to hear all the way from my house.

Get a load of this example, from a few years ago which at least gives some idea what I’m talking about. This is the stirring  Welsh National Anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers). And if you feel like singing along, here are the lyrics (in Welsh, of course):

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,
Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.

Chorus:
Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd;
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i fi.

Chorus

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

Chorus

Match Day

Posted in Biographical, Sport with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by telescoper

Unusually for a saturday, I’ve been a bit busy today and I’m also going out later, so I’ll refrain from one of my discursive weekend posts and keep it brief (but not necessarily to any particular point).

Today, of course, is the date of Wales’ first home match in this year’s RBS Six Nations Rugby competition. They lost to England 30-17 last week (at Twickenham) largely because of a bit of indiscipline by Alan Wyn Jones who got himself sent off the field for ten minutes after tripping an England player. England forged ahead during the time Wales were down to 14 men and although Wales fought back later on I thought England deserved to win. It wasn’t, however, a very good game to watch.

The scene was thus set for a home game for Wales in Cardiff  today against Scotland (who lost at home to France last week). It’s really impossible to describe how special it is to be in this city when Wales are playing rugby. The Millennium Stadium can hold about 75,000 which is large compared to Cardiff’s population of around 330,000. The Scottish fans, easily identified by the kilts and the smell of alcohol, were out on the townin large numbers last night. No doubt many of them woke with substantial hangovers this morning, but it has been a beautiful sunny day and the sight of the Scots – blue and tartan – mixing with the Welsh – red and green with a liberal sprinkling of dragons- was marvellous to see as I walked around this morning running a few errands.

The atmosphere in town was just sensational, unique to Cardiff, and enough to make you just want to walk around and soak it up. Actually, enough to make you wish you had a ticket for the match too, which unfortunately I didn’t. Still, it was live on TV.

When I got home the crowds were already walking down past my house towards the stadium, which is only a mile or so away,  for the 2pm kickoff. Among them was the sizeable frame of legendary Welsh rugby hero JPR Williams. He’s quite  old now – a quick look on wikipedia reveals that he was born in 1949 – but he hasn’t changed much at all since his heyday in the 1970s.  Taller than I had imagined.

Anyway, I did a little gardening in the sunshine just before the match started and, standing outside, I could hear the sound of Land of my Fathers being sung before the kickoff all the way from the Stadium. It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Tremendous.

The match itself was strangely disjointed to begin with but ended in extremely exciting fashion. Wales playing surprisingly poorly in the first half and Scotland surprisingly well. Wales appeared nervous and a bit disorganised and the two Scottish tries both involved defensive errors by the Welsh. The half-time score of  Wales 9 Scotland 18 was not what I would have expected before the start of the game, but was a fair reflection of the balance of play at that point.

The second half initially followed a similar pattern, Scotland edging 21-9 ahead at one point,  but Wales gradually crept back into it. However, it was a yellow card for a Scottish infringement that led to Wales gaining enough momentum to claw their way back to 21-24 with a try created by Shane Willians and scored by Leigh Halfpenny. Then, with less than a minute to play,  Scotland lost another player for a cynical piece of foul play that prevented another Welsh try. Wales decided to take the penalty kick to tie the game at 24-24 with just 40 seconds left. The Scots restarted with only 13 men on the field and only seconds left to play, hoping to run down the clock and finish with a draw. However the Welsh were scenting an unlikely victory and the Scots were very tired. The Welsh managed to keep the ball alive – the next dead ball would have been the end of the game – and, unbelievably, Shane Williams popped in to score a try. The match ended Wales 31 Scotland 24.

It wasn’t the best rugby I’ve ever seen in terms of quality, but it’s definitely the most dramatic final ten minutes! I’m not sure the referee was right to allow the restart after the kick to level it at 24-24 as it seemed to me the time was up then. I’m sure the rugby fans in Cardiff  tonight won’t be quibbling, though. The city will be buzzing tonight!

Today was also the day for two important footall matches. In the FA Cup, Cardiff City travelled to Premiership leaders Chelsea and, predictably, got thrashed 4-1. The other match that interested me was Swansea City versus Newcastle United in the Championship. That finished 1-1, a result I was happy with since Swansea are playing well and Newcastle had lost in feeble fashion 3-0 away at Derby County earlier in the week. They go back top, if only by one point.

All in all, a most satisfactory day, and it’s not over yet. Tonight I’m off to the Opera (for the first time in what seems like ages). So guess what tomorrow’s post will be about….