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March 9, 2013

It's a bit of a blurry photograph, the iPhone is good at many things but telephoto shots are problematic!  It's at the end of the Scottish match (one reason for my trip to Edinburgh) and the Welsh Team are doing a lap, not on honour, but to thank their supporters.   As they reached a corner of the stadium, some of the worst seats in the house they saw friends and relatives.  The picture shows Leigh Halfpenny with them.  A minute before Sam Wharburton had thrown his man-of-the-match award to one of the group.

Rugby players in Wales still live in their own communities, they are a part of them.  One of the strengths of Welsh Rugby (and its financial weakness) is that it is primarily a working class sport.  In the amateur days the forwards came from the pits and the steel works.  The backs were medical students, often the first of their generation to reach University driven by their mams to educate to avoid the pits. Anyone else, especially from Llanelli was a farmer, just as in the Scottish Borders which used to be the home of Rugby there.  Its all changing but that at least is still there.   My last two columns for Cymru Culture talked a lot about these changes so I won't repeat the material here.  But the November and March columns cover my feelings on the need for sport to be a part of the community, not impossibly separated from it.

Otherwise it was cold, there were too many penalties and we really,  really need to change our half backs.  I'm staying in a rather nice design hotel in the Grassmarket and pleased to be at the back of the hotel – celebrations were running late into the night.  I'm just trying to get warm again and to prepare to don Italian colours tomorrow.

 

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