My Summer Romance ⚽️Football Or Rugby 🏉

The Football Association of Wales was founded in 1876, five years before the Welsh Rugby Union, it has always been taken as read that rugby union is the national game of Wales, but is the wind of change sweeping through the sporting landscape of this country ?

Success is obviously a vital factor, and many fans are fickle, so in view of recent international football success it is not surprising that there are questions as to which code currently holds the nations heart.

There is no doubt that the fans in Bordeaux, Lens and Toulouse have displayed a passion that one would have once thought was exclusively reserved for the oval ball team,  and not just passion, but also the wonderful choral support that has been sadly missing from Welsh rugby for many years.

To hear the great Welsh hymn, Calon Lan,  sung in Bordeaux when Wales beat Slovakia in their opening Euro 2016 match , brought a tear to my eye, it took me back to the 1970s, the days when singing in harmony was the norm at Welsh rugby internationals .

There is wonderful innocence about the Welsh football followers , they are savouring every moment, living every kick and pass,  and during the match the football is the priority ,and not the nationalistic social drinking fest that rugby internationals have now become for many .

The real truth of course is, that most football fans will watch rugby, and most rugby fans will watch football, but if you look beyond the international arena, the attendances for the bluebirds and The Swans are at a level that the Pro 12 rugby regions could only dream of achieving.

Two days ago the back page of Wales on Sunday reflected on the huge gulf in emotions between the codes , as the abject gloom of the manner of defeat in New Zealand contrasted starkly with the glorious and unabated joy that was palpable,  as Wales defeated Northen Ireland in Paris to reach the quarter finals…. Yes…. That’s right ! The Quarter finals of Euro 2016.

I for one am probably looking forward to Wales FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September more than the Autumn Rugby Internationals, and I never imagined that would ever happen.

Perhaps the years of childhood, and adult, deprivation of Welsh football panini stickers, Esso coins and newspaper pull outs have finally caught up with me , or have I just been caught up in the huge tide of joy, bewilderment and euphoria rolling in  between Barry and Bordeaux, Treorchy and Toulouse, Lampeter and Lille, and Pontypridd and Paris ?

Whatever it is ,I am sure there is enough love and enough room in our affections for both codes, but this French summer romance is something very special , and my heart will never be the same again.


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