Home Is Where The Calon Is

Firstly to explain to the uninitiated, Calon is the Welsh word for heart, which will hopefully explain the title of this piece, just as you were about to question my sanity, quite rightly, and probably not for the first time, or indeed the last.

Anyway I digress, there is a patch of grass in the centre of Cardiff that has an almost reverential status for welsh rugby people, the ghosts that inhabit this stadium do so with a haunting presence that seeps into your soul, Gareth, JPR, Gerald, Jiffy, Barry, Shane and a list that goes on and on.

The pitch at the Millenium Stadium, now known as Principality, but forever known to my generation as the Arms Park, was turned 90 degrees in 1999 when the new stadium was built, but it is still the same patch of grass that has filled us with lifetime memories good and bad, we can all tell you in which corner Gareth and Ieuan scored, which corner JPR barged Gourdon into touch, and the exact spot where Paul Thorburn kicked that monster penalty.

Wales did not lose a five nations match in Cardiff between 1968 and 1980, but after that it was pretty much full your boots time for visiting teams, everyone came and won including Western Samoa, Canada and Romania

But after years of invaders coming without any fear, Cardiff has once again become a bit of a fortress.

As Warren Gatland prepares for his final home game as Wales coach, a win against Ireland on Saturday would stretch their unbeaten run to 12 matches, one short of Wales all time record of 13 matches unbeaten between 1907 and 1912.

Wales last defeat on home soil came in November 2017, and to none other than New Zealand, since then they have defeated South Africa Scotland and England on two occasions along with Italy, Australia, Tonga, Ireland, and France, incidentally one of the home games against South Africa was played in Washington D.C., such is the way in modern professional rugby.

The Cardiff factor has been a big part of Wales reaching the number one spot  in the World Rugby Rankings, something those of us who witnessed Canada, Western Samoa, the whole of Samoa, and Romania capturing our flag on home ground, would never have dreamed possible.

It may not count for much in Rugby World Cup year, but for those that spend their hard earned cash on vastly overpriced and frequently changed replica shirts, and those who save up every two years to go to Dublin, Paris, Rome and Edinburgh well they have earned enough “Misery  Miles” to bask in every second that Wales spend at that top spot, these days may never return.

So as our friends from across the Irish sea join us on Saturday, a Wales home win could keep the home fires burning, and a whole new range of rugby ghosts will prepare to haunt this wonderful sporting cathedral for the next generation of rugby mad Taffs, and that’s just as it should be.

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