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!

Crunch time

Rugby ball

Don’t listen to any talk of expecting a home win, the locals were fearing the worst as the Autumn Internationals against the best of the southern hemisphere were about to draw to a close for another year. A display of inflatable rugby balls should not be taken as a sign of inflated expectations. The venue was still the same old Heartbreak Hotel

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… where the script remained stubbornly unedited. Wales just love to be in the lead against the three most successful teams in the world, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the last minutes of each match. Today was crunch time, as this would be the last of the big three arriving in Cardiff before next year’s Rugby Union World Cup, with leads already surrendered against Australia and New Zealand earlier in the month.

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It was also crunch time as matches against the South African Springboks are always prefaced with terms such as physicality, brutality, and heavy crunching tackles.

 

Two hours to kick-off and the stats were far less significant than the all-important preparation before the match… where clearly there was no room in the inn…

The match gets under way, and in the stadium everything was going to script, as the game remained evenly balanced as the first half progressed…

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But, for some spectators there was a clear preference for a sunny disposition, even if the result went the way of other visits by South African teams at the final whistle…

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But, just once in a while the pain of history can be soothed by that rare experience of a win! When the final whistle came… well, it was always expected according to my ‘in-house prophet’!

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It also clearly seemed to mean something to the perennial bottlers, as the final whistle provides a cue for public man-on-man kissing and cuddling. At least it makes a change from all that sniffing of arses vibe going on during the match!

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Strange how this sport gives you some winners silverware when you achieve only the second win against your opponents in a lengthy history of this fixture. There must be a world surplus of silver I guess…

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Wales flags

 

 

WALES 12 SOUTH AFRICA 6

South Africa flags

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, until we speak again I have been Baffled Juno, subjected to a month of observing something resembling egg-chasing. I am sure us cats would never demean ourselves by indulging in such strange pastimes…

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As for the locals, my guess is they will be oblivious to the result when they have finally dragged themselves home from the pubs and clubs of a raucous and victorious Cardiff!

[With thanks to wesclark.com for the image of cats playing rugby].

Shambolic drama

Wales flags

WALES 17 FIJI 13

 

Fiji flags

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rugby is a religion in Wales, believe me. As a cat brought up initially in parts of London I thought it was just the passtime of posh boys who liked to get in touch with the animal instincts of sniffing each other’s rears…

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But here in Wales it is the life blood of men, women and children alike… a kind of national identity that bonds everyone together for 80 minutes every now and then, before they resume the mundanity of their usual lives.

As a sport it is little understood by most, and having just lost a couple of hours of my life that I will never get back, I can assure you that a casual glance at the video replay of this anticipated majestic autumn international will be illuminating… at least about everything the game is not meant to be about! Here is a game where both teams managed to completely avoid doing anything that they are best known for… fast flowing rugby full of the thrills and spills of high energy running and hard tackling. All you get from this shambles is the ‘spills’ with very little of the thrills, save for the surprising moments when tries were actually scored.

Fiji managed to spend just over half of the game down from 15 to 14 players as a result of unfathomable misdemeanours; while Wales managed to score precisely no points for the duration of the time they had a numerical advantage of personnel on the pitch. The game probably scored the highest number of clueless mistakes from both sides, but particularly the home side. All that can be said in the land of rugby dreamers is ‘job done, just!

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Until we speak again I will be Baffled Juno, avoiding local men providing cartoonish visions of what passes for work.

[With acknowledgement to fotolibra.com for the rugby scrum image].

The pain of deja vu

Wales flags

 

WALES 28 AUSTRALIA 33

Australia flags in St Mary Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a rugby match that had as much, if not more, to do with other days as it was about today. Whoever said that rugby is just about 80 minutes of 30 big cats running into each other clearly hasn’t been in Cardiff on an autumn international match day when Wales are hosting Australia. This type of afternoon in the Millennium Stadium is what psychology looks like in the raw.

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Today is just tomorrow’s yesterday‘; or you might want to think in terms of ‘times of future past‘. But, whatever linguistic scrummaging you want to get your headspace into, there is no getting away from the fact that Wales have developed a habit, one that nobody should really fall into. This is now 10 straight defeats to this particular opponent. But worse than that… this has become a fixed pattern of Wales leading with minutes to go on the clock, only to commit sporting harikari as they commit a simple error or two to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

So, that takes care of the psychological impact of the past, what about the future? Today comes with added spice, because these two teams find themselves in the same World Cup pool as England in October 2015, and only two teams can qualify out of the pool into the quarter-finals. While at the last World Cup Wales and Australia were both losing semi-finalists, and England returned home early in disgrace! (Welsh folk seem to like using that adjective); now the circumstances look more evenly balanced. So, 3 into 2 is going to leave one nation languishing in dejection. Cue the moment for ending a long run of a particularly poor habit!

 

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Until we speak again I guess I will be Solemn Juno surrounded by a nation in mourning for what could have been… yet again!

[Thanks go to Wes Clark and Afro J Simpson for posting the two fabulous images].