Masking Our Feelings The 2021 Guinness Six Nations

The winters are dark and cold in this part of the world, the daylight is in short supply during the days following Christmas, it is a bleak time for everyone, everyone that is apart from rugby fans.

For us it is the rebirth of the sporting year, and the start of the weekly countdown to the first weekend in February when the 6 Nations tournament begins.

The tournament starts in the depths of winter, and takes us through to the weak sunshine and gentle warmth of early spring, when the tournament concludes in the middle of March.

But the 6 nations is about far more than just rugby, it’s about making and renewing friendships, it’s about the history, it’s about the fans, the wonderful memories of 6 nations weekends past, and those wonderful ones yet to come.

Memories of matches and weekends shared with family, loved ones, and friends, some of whom are sadly no longer with us, come flooding back, and their spirits are with us this at time of year, as we prepare to enjoy a winter sporting festival like no other.

The 6 nations weekend has a heartbeat, a soul, it is a living entity, that has been enjoyed and handed down from generation to generation.

Uncles, fathers, grandparents cousins, have all taken pride in guiding their offspring on their first 6 nations weekend, and those youngsters who have taken over the baton, keep the traditions alive, and when the time comes, they will take their young on a similar rite of passage, and that is why the 5 Nations, as it was, and the 6 nations as it is now, is so unique.

Each wonderful host city has its own unique atmosphere, sight, sounds and smells.

Sadly this year it will all be very much different, and yet despite the lack of crowds and the dreadful situation we all find ourselves in, there is no doubt that the tournament has an important role to play.

The wonderful distraction of sport can be a great comfort in these difficult times.

As the 2021 tournament approaches, many of us, in the middle of a cold dark winters night will lie awake, and as the wind and rain beat against the window, we will feel a cosy warmth, as we remember with fondness, the matches, the weekends, the laughter, the tears, but most of all we will remember the people we have shared the matches with, and those friends we have met, because it is they that make the six nations tournament so very special, and we will hope and pray that next year those precious reunions will taste all the sweeter.

2020 Those We Have Lost

André Abadie. France international prop, who played twice as his country won the Five Nations in 1968.

Roger Austry. Former international referee from France. Awarded the Coq d’Or in 2002 for his career achievements, Austry refereed the French Championship final between Bègles and Toulouse in 1969 and during the Five Nations three years later.

Paul Bayvel. Golden Lions and South Africa scrum-half. Bayvel made his Springbok debut in the second test against the British and Irish Lions in 1974 and went on to win 10 caps for his country.

Steve Blackmore. Prop who played 169 games for Cardiff RFC between 1982-1996. Blackmore appeared four times for Wales, and played in the bronze final win over Australia at Rugby World Cup 1987.

Logie Bruce-Lockhart. Fly-half who played five times for Scotland between 1948-1953, helping his country to a famous 8-5 win over France in 1950. Bruce-Lockhart played in two Varsity matches for Cambridge and was also a schoolmaster, journalist and writer.

Michel Celaya. Former France captain who won 50 caps and helped the team to its first outright Five Nations Championship title in 1959. A forward, Celaya spent his entire club career at Biarritz and later coached the club.

Peter Cronje. Golden Lions and Sharks centre who played seven tests for South Africa. His third and final try for his country, scored against the British and Irish Lions in 1974, was the first four-point try scored by a Springbok.

Éric de Cromières. Became ASM Clermont Auvergne president in 2013 and oversaw a period of success in which the club won the Top 14 and European Challenge Cup while reaching the final of the European Champions Cup twice.

Corra Dirksen. A winger who scored three tries in 10 test appearances for South Africa between 1963-1968. All of those scores came against France in 1967, with his second in the first test considered one of the best ever scored by a Springbok.

Christophe Dominici. Scored 25 tries in 67 tests for France between 1998-2007. Arguably his finest moment came in the RWC 1999 semi-final when he helped to inspire Les Bleus’ 43-31 defeat of tournament favourites New Zealand.

Garrett Fitzgerald. Former player and coach who served as Munster CEO for 20 years between 1999-2019. During that time Munster won three PRO14 titles and two European Champions Cups.

Greg Growden. Australian journalist who covered every men’s Rugby World Cup for the Sydney Morning Herald and ESPN. 

Andy Haden. Played 117 times for the All Blacks, including 41 tests. The outspoken second-row played his club rugby for Auckland, and enjoyed spells at Harlequins and Algida Rome in Europe.

George Hastings. Primarily a prop, the versatile forward also played in the second- and back-rows for Gloucester. Hastings won 13 caps between 1955-1958, all in the front-row, scoring one try and kicking a conversion and two penalties.

Raymond Hunter. Won 10 test caps for Ireland and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 1962. Also represented Ireland at cricket, taking 33 wickets and scoring 800 runs in 28 matches.

Iain Laughland. Known affectionately as ‘Logie’, Laughland won 31 test caps for Scotland between 1959-1967, captaining his country on two occasions. He was also a gifted, and innovative proponent of sevens and a skilled administrator.

Terry Lineen. Played 12 tests for the All Blacks before his career was cut short at the age of 24 by a shoulder injury suffered against South Africa in Bloemfontein in August 1960. Lineen wore the silver fern a total of 35 times between 1957-1960.

Victor Luaces. Deputy Secretary of the Unión Argentina de Rugby between 2014-2018 and Sudamérica Rugby Honorary Secretary. Luaces played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Súper Liga Americana de Rugby.

Jean-Pierre Lux. A member of France’s Five Nations Grand Slam-winning team in 1968, Lux won 47 caps for Les Bleus and scored 12 tries. He later held roles on the boards of both the Ligue Nationale de Rugby and the Fédération Française de Rugby, and served as president of European Rugby Cup between 1999-2014.

George Mackie. Former Scotland number eight, who won four caps for his country between 1975-1978. His debut came in a 10-3 victory against Australia at Murrayfield in December, 1975.

Dougie Morgan. The scrum-half played 21 tests for Scotland, and captained the team during the Five Nations in 1978. He also made two appearances for the British and Irish Lions during the 1977 tour of New Zealand. Morgan coached Scotland between 1993-1995, leading them to the quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 1995.

Arthob Petersen. Former Springbok manager, who held the post on four separate occasions between 1997-2009. In 1992, he was elected as a member of the executive committee of the South African Rugby Football Union, the forerunner to SA Rugby.

Ray Prosser. A prop who played 22 times for Wales between 1956-1961, and appeared in the final British and Irish Lions test against New Zealand in 1959. A proud Pontypool player, Prosser went on to coach the club for almost 20 years, bringing success on the pitch and producing a long line of international forwards for Wales.

André Quilis. A flanker who played five times for France between 1967-1971. Quilis went on to coach Perpignan, Nîmes and Montpellier.

Mat Ratana. Head coach of East Grinstead RFC. Born in Hawke’s Bay, Ratana moved to London in 1989 and spent the next 30 years working for the Metropolitan Police either side of a five-year spell back in New Zealand between 2003-2005.

Mike Slemen. England’s most-capped winger (31) when he retired from test rugby in 1984. Slemen scored a try in the 30-18 defeat of Scotland that secured a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1980, and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions that summer. Went on to coach the England backs under Geoff Cooke.

Jock Steven. Scottish Rugby President between 1993-1994, Steven represented the Barbarians during his playing career and was also an unused travelling reserve for Scotland. In 1988, he was team manager for the unbeaten Scotland Development XV tour of Zimbabwe.

Arthur Summons. A fly-half who won 10 caps for Australia between 1958-1959. Summons switched to rugby league in 1960, and captained and coached his country.

Alan Sutherland. A tall, powerful number eight who played 54 matches for New Zealand between 1968-1976, 10 of which were tests. A member of the Marlborough team that won the Ranfurly Shield in 1973, he later moved to South Africa.

Eddie Tonks. New Zealand Rugby Chair between 1990-1995, Tonks was first elected to the board in 1986 and was made a life member in 2004. He was involved in the preparations for the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and also served as World Rugby Chairman.

Matthew J Watkins. Centre who played 18 tests for Wales, and also represented his country at sevens. He revealed in 2013 he had a rare form of pelvic cancer and fundraised for cancer charities following retirement.

Grant Weatherstone. Scotland winger who won 16 caps and scored three tries between 1952-1959. Weatherstone also represented the Barbarians and was selected for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 1955, but withdrew through injury.

JJ Williams. Having represented Wales as a sprinter at the Commonwealth Games in 1970, Williams became an iconic figure on the wing for his nation’s rugby team. He won 30 caps for Wales between 1973-1979, scoring 12 tries, and added five more in seven tests for the British and Irish Lions.

Dennis Young. Hooker who played 22 tests for New Zealand between 1956-1964. A talented tap dancer in his youth, Young also represented Canterbury 139 times.

John Young. A talented athlete as well as a rugby player, Young played nine tests for England on the wing between 1958-1961, scoring two tries. In 1959 he was selected to tour New Zealand and Australia with the British and Irish Lions. Following retirement he became an England selector.

Hiroki Yuhara. The hooker was capped 22 times by Japan and was a member of the squads that travelled to RWC 2011 and RWC 2015, playing one match at the former. Following retirement he was working as forwards coach at Toshiba Brave Lupus.

It All Ended In Tiers

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire was more likely to be an ailment rather than an old Christmas song, considering the way 2020 panned out.

Maybe your Ding Dong didn’t merrily on high this year, but hey Cliff Richard didn’t release a Christmas song, so every cloud and all that.

Rugby wise even covid couldn’t stop some Boxing Day rugby from taking place, and the only new strain that affected me, touch wood ,was the strain put on the trousers by my rapidly expanding waistline.

It looks like 2020 is going out as it came in , with disruptive wind, nothing to do with the brussel sprouts, but rather Storm Bella, which is hitting the west coast as I write.

In Wales Boxing Day rugby was always centred around local derbies, where there was no love lost, the NHS was put under enormous strain even in those far off days, as local rivalries took a pugilistic turn on the field, prior to alcohol poisoning setting in post match.

In the professional era the local derbies in South Wales are not quite so brutal, but they are still bruising hard fought encounters.

This year in Newport the Dragons fire was finally drowned out after 68 minutes in the Gwent rain, and Cardiff Blues sneaked a narrow win by a single point.

The weather conditions were no better 63 miles due West in Llanelli, where Scarlets beat Ospreys in another close result.

A time of Tiers and tears as no spectators were present due to Covid, so it was yet another afternoon on the sofa.

So as the third mince pie bites the dust and the Nespresso machine works it’s magic, it’s time to switch channels to BBC 2 for Wallace and Grommit: A Close Shave, not too dissimilar to the earlier Welsh derbies… at least it’s not the wrong trousers. Maybe Its time to reach for the Wensleydale ?.

2020 Sorry You Were Out

It was a year when Amazon delivered our international rugby, and for once they didn’t just leave it behind the wheelie bin and put a card through the letter box. 

We should be eternally grateful that Yodel didn’t get the contract, otherwise England v Wales could have ended up in a neighbour’s porch, or half way up your silver birch.

Rugby limped through 2020 like an aged prop with a dodgy hamstring and a massive hangover, and whilst Wimbledon had been cancelled due to covid, the Autumn Nations Cup provided us with kicking rallies that Rafa and Roger would have been proud of.

Thank goodness for the dear old French, who not only found their mojo but stole everyone  else’s as well, Dupont and Ntamack proving to be one of the best partnerships since Prince Andrew and Pizza Express.

We got used to our televised rugby sounding like an episode of “Friends” as the canned crowd noise became the norm, fortunately Andrew Cotter remained the constant despite threats of a takeover from the new commentary kids on the block Olive and Mabel.

Everyone’s mental health suffered, and is still suffering this year, to a greater or lesser degree, but rugby still provided those magical moments, as it always does, when for a split second we were transported away from the anguish and tragedy that engulfs us.

As many of us enter Tier 4, or the national equivalent, being deprived of our loved ones over Christmas has created an emotional experience that is difficult to comprehend, there is nothing in the memory bank to turn to on this occasion to help us cope.

Today  I was fortunate enough to be at the Stoop where in these dark times, the stars shone brightly. Finn Russell, Kurtley Beale Teddy Thomas and co dropped in from Paris, the city of lights and lifted the gloom for a few precious moments, and crikey, even the sun broke through.

These are tough times but let’s hope in 2021 these brighter moments will be more frequent, that crowds will replace canned noise, and that life in general will upgrade us to Amazon Prime.

Fijians Flying In The Edinburgh Dreich

The Scots have over 400 words to describe the weather, from flaggie (snowflake) to Haar (a mist rolling in from the east). 

In a 24 hour period at the weekend, Edinburgh experienced a meteorological smorgasbord, as Friday’s thundersnow gave way to smirr (fine drizzle) 

But nothing could dampen Fiji’s joy following two weeks in quarantine, at a motel in St Etienne, after 27 of their players tested positive for Covid-19.

The squad were left isolated in individual rooms with meals left outside their doors. They were allowed outside to stroll in the motel car park one by one, so to finally play a game of rugby against Georgia at Murrayfield must have been a mighty release.

It had been 423 days since Fiji last played an international match, and a victory that included 6 tries, 3 of which came from Nemani Nandolo, was a testament to their character.

Coach Vern Cotter said that the lockdown experience in France had made the players grow and become better both individually and as a team.

Georgia played their own part in an entertaining match, with 3 tries of their own, and they will have benefited hugely from playing quality opposition in the Autumn Nations Cup.

As the mist cleared on top of Arthur’s Seat and a patch of blue appeared above Murrayfield, the Fijians thoughts may have turned to sunny Suva, but “Auld Reekie” and its dreich will do just fine for now.

Carmarthenshire Birthplace Of Wizards

Carmarthenshire is a very magical place. Tucked away in West Wales the county’s mystical qualities are enhanced by the fact that it is reputed to be the birthplace of Merlin, the magician of Arthurian legend.

If you have any doubts about these matters then I refer you to Merlin’s oak which stood on the approach to Carmarthen’s town centre amid the legend that King Arthur’s famous wizard had placed a protective curse on it. In local tradition, the wizard said Carmarthen would “drown” if the oak was ever removed, and some even said a curious, pointed notch in the tree was the face of Merlin himself.

In fact, the tree was poisoned in the 1850s by a local who objected to people holding meetings beneath it, but its trunk was preserved within iron railings. It was then removed from the town when someone set it on fire at the end of the 1970s. Carmarthen then suffered its worst floods for many years.

The county of Carmarthenshire is also the birthplace of the subject of this article, and indeed its writer. The rolling green hills have produced more magicians than the magical circle, the towns and villages producing a conveyor belt of rugby wonderment.

 Cefneithen, Trimsaran, Bancyfelin, Kidwelly and Pontarddulais produced Barry John, Carwyn James, Jiffy, Delme Thomas, Mike Phillips, Jon Davies, Terry Price and Ieuan Evans, and that is just a  small proportion to illustrate that magic is indeed the byword in these parts.

 The tiny village of Mynddcerig had a recorded population of 303 in the 2011 census, this village has now been noted and mispronounced all over the world due to just one man, Nigel Owens.

Yesterday on a farm near Llanelli a herd of prize Hereford’s munched on their feed with a sense of bovine pride as their boss was creating history in Paris.

Nigel has never been one for taking any bull on the rugby field, but back home it’s a different story.

The first pedigree Hereford’s, the mairwen herd are named after Nigel’s Mam, Rhachel Mairwen Owens.

The lush green fields of Carmarthenshire are consistently visited by precipitation from the nearby Atlantic Ocean, one of the reasons why it is such a wonderful farming area.

Two weeks ago he had Georgia on his mind at a damp and gloomy Twickenham, but yesterday it was the city of lights that provided the setting for the Welshman’s 100th test match.

France faced Italy in a deserted Stade de France due to COVID-19, but it was another dreadful disease that occupied Nigel Owens sleepless nights in the lead up to this memorable occasion.

It was a case of TB or not TB as he and his herd awaited the results of statutory bovine TB tests. Thankfully the results all came back negative.

This could be the last international assignment for the much loved whistle blower but players and fans alike are hoping to see him in action during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

On a personal note I count myself privileged to call Nigel a friend. When he offered to write the foreward to my book on French Rugby, due for publication by St David’s Press in 2021, I was delighted beyond words.

Last night as a deserted post match Stade de France shimmered in the Parisian moonlight, a Carmarthenshire man’s thoughts turned to the rolling green hills of home, and Merlin doffs his cap to the wizard with the whistle, oh there is magic in these parts alright.

J.J. Initially One Of The Greats

Phil Steele summed it up perfectly

’”Im sure I speak for many of my age when I say that we have lost part of our rugby childhood, One of the all time greats of Welsh Rugby. #RIPJJ.

Those of us who grew up with the Wales team of the 1970’s have a spiritual bond with the players that we worshiped, and J.J. Williams’ death feels personal to us in a way we cannot begin to describe.

My first attendance at a Welsh international was against England at Twickenham in 1974, the day when Max Boyce’s blind Irish referee disallowed JJ’s try.

I can confirm here and now that it should have been awarded. John West was 25 metres behind play and couldn’t see the touchdown, but I could.

From that day onwards J.J. Williams was always somewhere in my excuse for a brain, but more importantly he was in my soul.


I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears last Thursday, when the sad news broke, the problem when you get to my age is that this sort of news gets more and more frequent, but as Phil Steele touched upon those childhood memories are so magical and so untarnished that you feel you lose something of yourself when folks of this kind leave us behind, it was just the same with “Merv” and “Grav”

I count myself so fortunate to have been a teenager when the “Welsh Whippet” made that red number 11 jersey his own. In fact I was even more blessed that he also played for “my” club, Llanelli. 

His playing feats have been written about in obituaries over recent days, but this small heartfelt tribute hopefully goes deeper than records and achievements.


Thank you John James Williams for lighting up a young boy’s passion for this wonderful game, you will never be forgotten, sleep peacefully.

GIADA FRANCO THE NEW WOMEN’S RUGBY AMBASSADOR

Italian Women’s Rugby has a new ambassador the Colorno flanker from Naples Giada Franco.

Colorno (Parmigiano: Colórni) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Parma in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) northwest of Bologna and about 15 kilometres (9 mi) north of Parma.

One of the first names on the Italy team sheet, the former Harlequins Ladies star begins a technical journey in support of women’s rugby in the Emilia region. The “Leonessa di Colorno”, a nickname derived from her determination and those luscious locks , officially becomes part of the tutoring project that the Via Pertini club is undertaking with the small women’s teams in the area.

Giada now occupies a place amongst the best players in Europe, as demonstrated by the four Player of the Match awards with Italdonne. The 24-year-old with 15 caps in the women’s national team told the Rugby Colorno website us about her story so far, her love for rugby and her recent role as ambassador of the women’s rugby development project.

There are strong links with her club in the Midlands as Leicester Tigers partnered with the Italian outfit in December 2018.

Colorno’s Men’s first team currently play in the second tier of Italian rugby union, whilst the Women’s team are Italy’s current reigning champions of the sport.

Founded in 1975, the club has progressed year on year thanks to a strong community development programme and projects with local schools.

Eight members of the Rugby Colorno Women’s team were also involved in the Italian national squad who finished second to England in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations, and the club fields 10 teams from the under-6 age group up to senior Men’s and Women teams.

Giada made a lot of friends and captured a lot of hearts during her brief time in England, her smiling face is greatly missed.

Here is the interview translated from Italian

Giada, where did your love for rugby come from?

“It started with school through a project I participated in during high school. I have always practiced other sports but when I got to know rugby I got passionate and I never stopped ”.

Did you have had any problems during your rugby journey? What has always kept the passion burning in you?

“The problems were essentially logistical in nature, as I had to move immediately from Salerno to Benevento and then to Colorno. The love for sport has always accompanied me in my life and kept the passion alive. ”

You had your first experience away from home in Colorno, tell us how you lived it.

“I moved here to Colorno with Maria Grazia Cioffi, a teammate and friend I met in Benevento, with her by my side I faced everything in a calm and peaceful way. Today I consider Colorno a second home, a big family in which I was very well received. ”

In 2018 the first blue call arrives, what memories do you have of the first meeting?

“I remember the anxiety and the nervousness, I was quite worried but at the same time I wanted to win a cap. Fortunately, there is a fantastic group in the national team too so I had no problems integrating into the team. ”

And the first game? The sensations of the first time with Italdonne.

“Pure anxiety, an indescribable emotion. Since I started playing rugby my dream has always been to wear the national team jersey and be able to proudly represent our country ”.

2018 was a very important year for you, the one in which the first historic Scudetto with the Red Furies of Rugby Colorno arrives in May.

“We were playing the second consecutive final, the year before we had lost precisely to Valsugana and the victory of the Scudetto symbolized our revenge, a revenge that came after a great journey with Cristian Prestera. We had worked and worked hard, we were a great group and that championship was the crowning glory of a perfect season. ”

Last year the experience in England with Harlequins Ladies, tell us how things went.

“It was a fantastic experience, in England I experienced a totally different way of seeing rugby, especially women’s rugby. In addition to the very high level of play, there is a great organization behind the championship, structured to perfection and very competitive … Then the Harlequins are a fantastic club. I’m sorry that this experience ended prematurely because of the covid. ”

Are you happy to be back in Colorno? Tell us what ties you to the women’s rugby development project.

“I am very happy to be back in Colorno where I found a large part of the team. I have an excellent relationship with Pliny, Mariagrazia and Davide, they push us to always give the best. From this season with Plinio we will support the teams under the tutoring of Rugby Colorno, namely Amatori Parma, Formigine, Carpi and Piacenza, in the hope of helping them to grow. The goal would be to make these girls debut one day with the Red Furies shirt. ”

Do you want to say hello to all the young rugby players who follow you?

“Hello everyone, we hope to see you soon on the pitch”.

Small Steps And Giant Leaps

After six months of rugby darkness they emerged blinking in to the sunlight.

Like pit ponies arriving above ground, the fans, around 2800 of them, looked slightly dazed and bewildered as they queued for hand sanitiser and to have their temperature assessed at the gates.

We all wondered when this day would come, at times we wondered if it would even come at all.

The classic saying that even the longest journey starts with a single step fitted yesterday’s occasion at the stoop perfectly.

Six months ago we would never have imagined a rugby crowd all wearing face masks, these were the things we saw far Eastern travellers wearing at Heathrow and Gatwick, much to our amusement.

Soberingly we no longer laugh, the masks have become as much of a must have attachment as our mobile phones.

There was an atmosphere of mixed emotions yesterday, as Bath faced Harlequins in a match that was used as a government trial in crowd reintroduction.

At last this felt like a proper rugby occasion, and as everyone gradually relaxed it felt like we had never been away.

What a joy and a relief to be able to smell that freshly cut grass, the sound of boot on ball, but you also detected a slight hint of nervousness in the attending legions, and understandably so.

Even the weather put on its Saturday best with warm patchy sunshine, it was late summer at its finest.

After Quins bright start Bath gradually gained control, and long before the second half the West Country side were well in control, and never looked like losing.

Blondes have more fun, and a paroxide endowed Rhys Priestland stood out for Bath. His 21 points from the boot, and his orchestration of the backline, reminded us just how good the former Wales fly half can be.

But ultimately yesterday was about something much bigger.

After all that has happened over the last six months, to walk away from the Stoop in the warm sunshine with like minded folk, felt very special.

With a big apology to Neil Armstrong this was one small rugby step, but for many of us it was a giant leap.

Mullets And Moos Rugby Returns In Wales

Yesterday Nigel Owens travelled the twelve miles from Mynddcerrig to Parc y Scarlets to be part of rugby’s re-birth in Wales. 

The short journey down the A476 was one he had travelled many many times before, but this one was particularly notable, as it heralded the return of competetive rugby to Wales.

Coronavirus for once met its match, and Scarlet Fever was the order of the day.

Scarlets emerged from the dark troubling days of recent months with a joy and a verve, as they celebrated their freedom with breathtaking running rugby that is engrained in the DNA of this rugby mad region.

Scarlets scored five tries with the “Five Roads Express” scoring a brace, and providing a constant attacking threat, whilst supporting a fetching mullet which we haven’t seen in these parts since the days of Jiffy and Ieuan.

The home team led 15-7 at the interval and never looked in danger of losing to a Cardiff Blues team that were off the pace, and never achieved a foothold in the game.

Ed Kennedy and Sam Lousi scored Scarlets other tries, along with the pick of the bunch a length of the field effort finished off by Johnny McNicholl.
Josh Adams and Matthew Morgan scored tries for the Blues, but Scarlets 32-13 bonus point victory was convincing.

The rugby re-birth was complete, but back down the A476 in Mynddcerrig Nigel Owens returned to the real thing, and the arrival of a new suckling bull calf, a welcome addition to his pedigree Hereford herd. Mairwen Storm might just have outshone Steff Evans this weekend.

Mullets and moos, what more could we ask of a weekend that gives us hope for the future.