Fireworks and handbags

History is waiting to be made… can Welsh rugby achieve its long overdue clean sweep of autumn international victories? South Africa have other intentions. Cue fireworks for the customary gladiatorial entrance under a closed roof…

A few tetchy individuals seemed to bring their handbags onto the pitch with them, as a few minor skirmishes threaten to interrupt a rugby match. But, was there ever going to be any doubt about the outcome as Wales move to a 14-0 lead at an early stage of the match…

There was a brief moment in the second half when South Africa reduce the lead to 14-11, and it seemed as if the handbag-inducing tension was going to subdue home supporters thoughts about any celebratory fireworks.

Until we speak again, a final score of Wales 20 South Africa 11 secures a deserved victory. With 2019 being World Cup year, stow the handbags and light the blue touchpaper!

Slam and Dunk

Deep in the Northern Hemisphere winter is a time when the egg-chasing sports enthusiasts get their moment in the limelight; when the Six Nations Rugby Championship takes centre stage; where some of the people of Wales connect with a strange kind of religious fervour.

This year it all kicked off with the biennial ‘Men in Skirts‘ weekend, as Scotland arrive in Cardiff. A brief moment when men can be true to their inner selves, and at least one shopping-laden woman can turn a blind eye…

1. a) Scary scrum

Scotland were in the rarified position of being tipped by many as favourites to win in Cardiff, only to be blown away 34-7 by the native dragon of Wales

1. b) City Road dragon [2]

Next up, it was the turn for Wales to be on the road, with the fixture that inspires thoughts of a clash with old enemies rather than a celebration amongst rivals. What would the marauders across the Severn Bridge take to the hosts of England, tipped to be champions before the tournament started? Well, with dragon-hearts in mouths for most of the last 60 minutes, it wasn’t to be, as St George stumbles to a 12-6 win, and the guest fire-starters prove at the final whistle to be a little more inert in portraying their true heritage…

2. Inert firestarters

Staying on the road, next up is the always welcome trip to Ireland, where the lotion joyously flows, and the red army have frequently found travelling success. As added-on time arrives Wales are only 3 points behind and in possession with the potential of a match-winning try; and then that wayward pass…… Ireland clinically strike for a 37-27 victory, as Welsh heads are bowed…

3. Fallen head [4]

With two oh-so close matches away, Wales return home determined not to let an unpredictable season slip on the banana skin that Italy may lay down at the Millennium Stadium (no Principality Building Society product placement accepted here!). A frenetic first half is followed by a procession to a 38-14 home win…

Banana skin

Which only leaves the simple matter of a victory in the final home match with France to secure a creditable second place in the Championship. If only… Wales don’t do ‘simple’! After most of the match watched through parted fingers, mouth agape, from behind the sofa, the final whistle brings that rarest of outcomes… Rabbits 14 Headlights 13…

5. Desperately holding on

Until we speak again, you may ask “but what about the other matches?” to which the carefully tutored Juno and Bella would answer “so what!” Another Six Nations comes to an end, with congratulations to Ireland for the Grand Slam of 5 wins in 5 games, and even greater congratulations to England for their Number 5… the Dunk of finishing 5th out of 6!

4. Pride restored

Judgement Day 30-4-2016

Once a year the national stadium plays host to all four of the Welsh regional rugby teams for a showcase two matches staged as Judgement Day. The season is drawing to a close and a suitable occasion arises for West v East as the Cardiff Blues take on the Ospreys of Swansea, and the Newport Gwent Dragons take on the might of the Scarlets of Llanelli.

A Grand Stage:

The Millennium Stadium (or Principality Stadium for those who like to wear their marketing endorsements on their sleeves) offers one of the world’s great stages for the event…

Inside Millenium Stadium [1]

Inside of Millenium Stadium [2]

Inside Millenium Stadium [3]

A Fiery Welcome erupts as the teams take to the field:

Blues v Ospreys fireworks

Dragons v Scarlets [1]

Fortunately for the infrequent spectator, two open and expansive games are played, with a majority of the national Welsh squad players on show across the four teams, ensuring entertaining high scoring matches:

Blues v Ospreys

But, not for the first time, judgement declares West as victors over the cousins in the East, as the final scores are Cardiff Blues 27 Ospreys 40, and Newport Gwent Dragons 20 Scarlets 34. 68,282 fans enjoy a feast of high quality rugby:

Blues 27 Ospreys 41

Dragons 20 Scarlets 34

For Juno and Bella this is a game they identified more as men behaving like packs of dogs, with just too much of the arse-sniffing going on (that’s a joke about rugby scrums for those not so familiar with the intricacies of the game). Until we speak again may all of your scrums be tight!

Rugby: The Man’s Game

Juno and Bella were never aficionados of the Welsh national obsession for Rugby Union. But they both proclaimed to be partial to a bit of rabbit. So Judgement Day 30-4-2016 in the home of Welsh Rugby may just have caused them more than a hint of confusion. Whilst Wales is obsessed with a man’s game, a little bit of the English male obsession for dressing up as women may be creeping in to the local rugby psyche!

What is this woman trying to take a nibble of?

Bunny [1]

On the other hand (forgiving the pun)…

Bunny [2]

Until we speak again, feel free to rethink your views about the finer details of the national sport!

 

Leek & Onion Soup

It’s a cold February day and my ‘in-house Oliver Twist’ is asking about ideas for feeding the masses. It being a big match event in the locality, I have no hesitation in coming up with my very own recipe. First, we need a pan big enough for all those insisting on “feed me ’til I want no more” (that’s an ‘in’ rugby comment). This will do…

Principality Stadium

Throw in generous portions of the main ingredients…

Ingredients

Add some heat to the cauldron…

Fire [1]

Fire [2]

Simmer for a few minutes…

Simmering

Sprinkle in a dash of yellow stuff…

Boil [1]

Add some crusty bread…

Bread [1]Bread [2]

 

 

 

 

 

Home appetites are guaranteed to be satisfied, as the final result clearly indicates a sumptuous outcome…

 

Final score

Rugby cat

 

Until we speak again I tempt your taste buds with my next menu, coming to an event near here: ‘Pizza for Proles’.

Men in Skirts

It’s Six Nations Rugby Internationals time again, and unlike my predecessor, the English Juno, I have no confusion over my loyalties…

Rugby cat

It’s Wales v Scotland for another of those atmospheric weekends in Cardiff

Wales v Scotland [1]

But it is a strange old game with some very odd sights to behold, none less than the quintessential Scottish characteristic of Men in Skirts!

Men in skirts

Local accommodations and hostelries can’t help themselves in an effort to engage with the event:

Hotel entranceRugby pub

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile people congregate at the stadium waiting for the arrival of the gladiators to the arena…

Stadium

And never has the back end of a bus been so celebrated…

Back end of team busMeanwhile it is the action on the pitch that counts most, and at the end of another hard fought game a brave Scotland succumb to the passion of the Welsh with a final score of…

Final score

Some of the national flowers show their excitement at the result…

Winning daffodils

And it is the home colours that flutter over St Mary’s Street in the heart of Cardiff…

Wales v Scotland [2] Until we speak again may all of your balls be egg-shaped!

The hard yards

There seems to be no hiding placeYoda eyes down [1] in international rugby, but Juno was clear that the strange rituals of putting heads between a team-mates thighs in order to push a group of guys a mere foot or two backwards was something definitely worth switching off to. As for the idea of kicking the ball 50 yards into the sky and 10 yards forward, just so you can run full speed into an opponent always seemed to her to be a strange premise for a sport. But, whatever the quirks, Wales v Ireland is going to be a game of intrigue and celtic passions. A true sporting battle is on, with high stakes… for Ireland a victory means the chance of a Grand Slam is still on. Victory for Wales leaves them still with a slim chance of winning the Championship. And all of this happening at the beginning of a World Cup year!

So where will the battle be fought? In the first instance, Ireland have an unassailable advantage:

Brains-BlackRugby ball

 

 

V.

 

The young pretender from the Cardiff brewery presents well, but what is going to compete with one of the world’s most renowned liquid refreshments? Step outside of South Wales and who has even heard of Brains Black?

Then there is the matter of the scrums, and the arena of myth and legend suggests that the Irish might again be too strong:

521deee337ca784c14752e9d20f65b62

leps

 

 

V.

 

 

 

 

So when it comes to the real hard yards, where the big guns aim to charge through the defensive lines of the opposition, both sides are well equipped with their examples of the hard stuff, but arguably Welsh anthracite reality may triumph in this phase of the game over Irish mythology:

Coal [1]ii-kissing-the-blarney-stone

 

 

V.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Emblematic’ is an often overused phrase in so many walks of life, and none more than sport. So, in such an emblematic game, where emblematic heroes will have emblematic moments, with the potential to provide us all with a truly emblematic result of emblematic proportions… it is important that we look at the emblems each country are able to call on in order to underscore their emblematic expectations.. It seems obvious to me that in a game of rock, paper, scissors the leek will most likely crush the four-leaf clover:

l_dfour-leaf-clover

 

 

 

V.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, my intrigued reader, you are left no clearer about how this match is going to play itself out. With an array of plants and vegetables, rocks and stones, and liquid dark stuff to line the sensibilities before, during and after the event… fill the arena, bring on the gladiators, take possession of cultural and religious metaphors of your own choice. Then, at the final whistle just add a joyous and decorous home support…

IMAG1561

IMAG1562

This has been Juno’s View of rugby, but until we speak again to find out what she thought of the current Cricket World Cup you will need to go somewhere lower on the excitement scale than baking cupcakes or creative crochet patterns.

[With thanks to http://www.2beerguild.co.uk, http://www.interest.com, http://www.sassycats.com, http://www.irishindeed.com, http://www.data-wales.co.uk, http://www.themissfitchronicles.com and http://www.universityobserver.ie for posting the images used to illustrate this post].