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

Living in La La Land

If there is one thing we can learn from Jeremy Corbyn’s all-new Labour Party it is the folly of short-sighted optimism. Two party election victories combined with an easily won parliamentary bi-election provides the fuel for the activists to spark their delusional ideas of grandeur into action, with dreams of electoral victory in 2020.

The problem with a burgeoning band of over-enthusiastic activists is their inability to even want to see the bigger picture. Why spoil a beautiful delusion with references to reality? 600,000+ plus members are not going to paper over the cracks of the millions of the wider public who have been previous Labour supporters and who are witness to a plot being lost!

not-supposed-to-happen

Which reminds me, just when the locals win against Aston Villa and Preston North End, with an expected win over the relative minnows of Burton Albion, some of the activists dream of their team rising through the Championship table. Could it be that we are marching towards a play-off position, with dreams of winning a place back in the Premier League at a Wembley play-off final? As night turns to day the deluded dream on…

city-v-prestoncity-v-norwich

Then, along come Norwich City to act as the unwanted reminder that reality comes with a spike to puncture dreams! Cardiff City 0 Norwich City 1.

Until we speak again, Bella dreams of completely different sporting delusions, as the Rugby Six Nations Championship prepares to return to its spiritual home! C’mon Wales!

rugby-cat

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!

 

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!

Balls of bewilderment

Relaxed rugbyI’ve been hearing a lot about some Rugby World Cup just starting, and it seems to be invading my home city in very strange ways. It seems to me to be a weird game in more ways than one. Firstly there is that ball, it rolls where it wants to… hang on here, I’m the one in charge, I decide what goes where in this place.

I saw some of a match on the ‘couch potato’s’ TV last night, and from what I could see it was just a bunch of men jumping and diving all over the place, and throwing each other on the floor in a frenetic way. So I’ve decided to adopt a more relaxed approach to the game.

Meanwhile, after an early morning’s flick and a snooze I thought I would check out what is going on around Cardiff city centre on this first of eight Millennium Stadium match days. The in-house ‘domestic grump’ keeps going on about plastic glasses, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Apparently, this so-called gentleman’s game watched by supporters who mingle and banter in friendly style still invoke city centre pubs to adopt plastic glasses for beer all day on match days.

Anyway, the quality of the beer wasn’t uppermost in my mind as I strolled around town.

Try Inn [3]

Sanity was of greater imperative as I turned into Duke Street… it seems even the iconic Cardiff Castle is not immune to World Cup fever…

Castle rugby ball [1]

As the world arrives on the shores of the United Kingdom for these matches over the next 6 weeks I anticipated strange things would be happening involving balls, but a sight on Queen Street even had me somewhat dumbfounded…

People,balancing act

Until we speak again I am going to be bewildered Bella, but may all of your balls be baffle free.

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…

images

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!

IMAG1332

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].