Must Read Incredible Donncha O’Callaghan Piece On The Magic Of Rugby In Wales
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Donncha O’Callaghan has written some excellent pieces for The Times since become a regular columnist but this might just be the best one yet.
Ahead of Wales’ massive Grand Slam decider with Ireland later today, the former Munster second-row row has opted against the traditional look at the game itself and what each team will bring, and instead opted to focus on the magical side of rugby that has fuelled Welsh sides over the years.
O’Callaghan says to truly understand Wales the international team – you must first understand their rugby culture.
“What Wales are going to do is not important; how they are going to do it is. To understand how Wales do it you have to understand them and their rugby culture.” he writes
“No more so than Ireland, they are raised on songs and stories — yet that lore and legend leads to a certain place, to the red jersey and molten heat of Cardiff on international days.”
“You may think there is little room for magic in modern professional sport. Then you look at the Wales team. In every other country a good club player is an average international. In Wales, average club players become excellent internationals.”
O’Callaghan goes on to describe the magic of the Welsh jersey and the Principality Stadium. How players rise to the occasion and are completely transformed because of past heroics by legends such as Shane Williams and JJ Williams.
He also looks at how the Welsh hate to leave home, citing an incredible story from the 2009 Lions tour that would bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
“For the 2009 tour we were left waiting for the Welsh bus at Pennyhill. Ten minutes late, 20 minutes, still no sign. No one’s saying anything but you can tell lads are thinking, “Who the hell shows up late to a Lions tour?”
Thirty minutes late, in rolls the Welsh bus. It turned out they were late because Andy Powell’s mum was crying and hugging Andy so much outside the bus. “I’m so proud of you son … I’m so proud of you.” She had also brought a load of sandwiches for the boys before their journey. As soon as you hear that you’re almost overcome with love for the Welsh; the butterflies who cannot be broken on the wheel of professionalism.
That said, who turned up on the tour? Andy Powell’s mum! The sandwiches and tears were just a ceremony to mark the leaving of Wales!”
We can’t really give away any more, but you can read O’Callaghan’s incredible piece in full here and we highly recommend it. You have to sign up for a Times account, but it’s free and you get access to two articles. It’s definitely worth it.