Cardiff Basques In Sunshine And Sporting Glory

Blue has been the colour this week, as Cardiff  basked in a week of glorious sunshine and unadulterated sporting glory.

It’s difficult to decide which is the more notable, as meteorological success in Wales is probably harder to come by than sporting triumph, but for the capital city to have both, and in the space of less than a week, may well make residents and supporters rush out en masse, to buy a lottery ticket, as unlike the weather, good fortune appears to raining down on the South Wales city at the moment.

On Friday night glorious success spanned the 1006 miles from Cardiff Bay to the Bay of Biscay, and from Barry to Bilbao, I would imagine there were even “Bluebirds” over the white cliffs of Dover.

The Welsh capital had only just recovered from its massive footballing hangover, following Cardiff City’s promotion to the premier league, when the “hair of the dog” came in the form of European Challenge cup success in the San Mames stadium over Gloucester.

The celebratory pintxos replaced Clarkie’s pies on this occasion, and chip alley was temporarily re located to Plaza Emilio Campuzano, a gastronomic upgrade of massive proportions.

It couldn’t have started much worse for Welsh side, losing star man Josh Navidi after 6 minutes with what looked like a dislocated shoulder, from then on Gloucester bossed the first half and went in at half time with a 20-6 lead.

I had already prepared my headline “Cardiff sunk in the Bay of Biscay”, but not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time. I was proved totally wrong.

Barely having time to finish my Cortado, a minute into the restart Blues scrum half Tomos Williams went over for a brilliant try, that set the tone for a thrilling and nerve jangling second half.

The tide was turning in the Bay of Biscay, and the water was starting to look a bit choppy for Gloucester.

The Blues scored seventeen unanswered points in fourteen second half minutes, to give them a 23-20 lead, but the cherry and whites were not finished, and proceeded to score ten unanswered points of their own to take a 30-23 lead.

The score remained that way until the clock hit 76 minutes, when Blane Scully went over in the corner, Anscombe missed a difficult conversion, as finger nails slowly disappeared with Gloucester clinging on to a 30-28 lead.

The Arms Park boys gave it one last thrash, which resulted in a Cardiff penalty in the 79th minute, Anscombe slotted the pressure kick as Cool as the cucumber in my vegetable bocadillo, they collected the restart, wound down the last few seconds, and booted the ball into touch to gain a memorable win by 31 points to 30.

Open top buses are going to be in short supply next week in Cardiff, as the city’s sporting heroes display their wares, if there’s another week of sunshine to go with it we may just have to pinch ourselves.


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