Red, red, red everywhere

9 02 2011

The six nations has started so those bastard Redshirts have appeared again.

Don’t get me wrong I can appreciate a bit of rugby. I love seeing a quick feint, a sidestep, a jink. Growing up in a sport-loving household with a rugby-loving dad was bound to rub off in some way. 

My connection with rugby wasn’t always so benign. My rugby-loving dad rather obviously pushed me in the direction of playing with odd-shaped balls. I was never enthused by the idea. My earliest memory of “playing” rugby is standing behind the posts, in a pristine Welsh Shirt, wishing that I was playing football instead. In fact nearly all of my rugby career was spent wondering why I was there and wishing I wasn’t.

School matches were endless repeats; a water-logged bog, back ache, mud in every orifice and the ball passing me by. Then on the way home the big boys at the back of the coach would invariably try to assault your intimate parts with their Ralgex sprays, they got me once.

After we left school friends tried to stir my interest in playing “for the pride of Llandudno” but I wasn’t interested. They tried again a few years later but by this time I’d discovered that adult rugby has too much senseless violence and urine drinking for my liking.

Since my “playing years” I have realised that rugby is only a sport and there’s not much point in disliking a sport just because it exists. You can’t really blame a sport for the idiotic participants it attracts.  Anyway thanks to my dad’s informal education I could still appreciate the thrilling parts of rugby;

or this

or even this

I have even been known to like the Northern code too.

I used to think I was safe watching rugby but now I find that this is becoming an annoying waste of time. I may appreciate rugby for the sport it is but I can’t say the same for others, and they generally have loud mouths.

On Friday Wales were due to play England and I had a premonition. I wasn’t going to the pub to watch the match as I had foreseen the whole of impolite Llandudno society around me, united by their ignorance of  the knock on and the collapsed scrum. 

I saw Llandudno’s bars full of annoying whiners. I saw lager-fuelled nationalists and scallies draped in flags, I saw  shrieking harridans and harpies in sparkly red cowboy hats and tailored red shirts. I didn’t need to go there and actually see it, I just knew. There was a story in last Friday’s Daily Post to reinforce my trepidation;

TWO very different kinds of commentary will be available for viewers of this evening’s important rugby international on S4C.

Wales take on England in the first match of the 2011 Six Nations Championship at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

There will be an English language commentary on BBC1 Wales, but on S4C, through the red button service, viewers can choose to enjoy an expert commentary from Huw Llywelyn and team or a light-hearted, fun analysis of the action on the pitch.

An S4C spokesman said the alternative commentary will be given by BBC Radio Cymru presenter Magi Dodd, comedian Daniel Glyn and Welsh women’s rugby star Non Evans.

Magi said: “The intention is to try to appeal to viewers who may not be big rugby fans, but enjoy watching big games like Wales v England and want something a little different.

“Daniel and I aren’t avid fans of rugby but we thoroughly enjoy the game. We represent the voice of the viewers who don’t understand all the technical rules.”

Yes rugby in the new rock ‘n’ roll for the Welsh moron. It turns out my premonition was right. A friend went out for a few pints and his description was almost exactly as I feared, Llandudno had become a melange of shrieking 80 minute nationalists.

The article provides enough ammunition to detest the prominance of  “Being a Welsh Rugby fan” in contemporary Wales. Take the bold sentence for a start, “…..to viewers who may not be big rugby fans”. Why the fuck are people watching “the rugby” if they don’t understand the game? In effect they’re saying “Just turn up at the party because everybody else is and you don’t want to miss out!!!! If you miss out you’re not Welsh!!!!!!” These morons make you depressed for the future because they go along with it all without thinking.

It reinforces my view that the Welsh rugby team represents a lightning rod for people desperate to prove how Welsh because they think everybody else is equally desperate  to do so. Unfortunately for the rest of us the women in sparkly hats and the blokes drunkenly slagging off “Fucking English Twats” are not just having a good time they are ruining it for the rest of us by accepting a bullshit version of what it means to be Welsh. They provide the purveyors of bullshit with a justification to carry on purveying bullshit.

We are  on dodgy ground when hysteria, nationality and mass participation are mixed. Some people may paint sport-related nationalism as a welcome thing in our dislocated society, they might say it’s one of the few times when there is tangible social cohesion in Britain. But the fact it seems to happen tells us more about the negative sides of early 21st century capitalist society than anything else. A packed pub in Llandudno during the six nations tournament is neither inclusive nor particularly welcoming.

You don’t need to do much research to see the effect of allowing groups to paint a false picture of what a nation’s culture should be like. Consider the idea that British people are said to feel more anxiety over the  “immigration issue”  than people in other countries. The actual facts in this situation should lead British people to feel less anxiety about this issue than people in other countries; immigrants make up less of the population in Britain than in other countries. I often wonder why people let this so–called issue bother them but the agenda is being dictated by xenophobes and idiots.

Sometimes this attitude goes beyond mere words, sometimes it takes a nasty turn into action. Take this example from the last couple of weeks.

Stage 1.  A muslim cultural centre is planned for Shotton.

Stage 2. The English Defence League plan to protest about this

Stage 3. The would be muslim cultural centre is destroyed by a “hateful attack”

It should make everyone worried when they see the effect of  just going along with everybody else without thinking. While it’s a bit of a leap to go from supporting rugby to race hate they are on the same continuum in north Wales. These bloody six-week nationalists show that too many people are not fond of thinking properly.

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