Scotland Head Homeward To Think Again

It is 401 miles from Edinburgh to Cardiff, a journey, or rather a pilgrimage that is definitely not for the faint hearted.

That weekend trip to see Wales play Scotland in Edinburgh was perceived to be a test of manhood undertaken by many generations of Welsh fans.

The journey to this game was known as “The Killer” leaving Cardiff at 2100 on Friday night, the train would arrive in Edinburgh at 0700 on Saturday morning, the return journey commenced immediately following the match, with the train leaving Edinburgh at 2100 on Saturday night, and arriving in Cardiff at 0500 on Sunday morning, it was not a journey for the faint hearted.

I know of people who have travelled on this weekend marathon and never even got to see the game, due to socialising a bit too fervently, they returned home with very little memory of the whole weekend, but the moment they got back they started saving to do it all again in two years time.

Yesterday it was our friends from the North who had the dubious honour of travelling, and they did so for once in expectation rather than hope, an unusual and maybe troubling mind set for many of the Tartan Army.

Scotland had not tasted victory in Cardiff for 20 years, their last success a 27-22 win over Steve Hansen’s Wales in 2002.

After a memorable victory against England in the Edinburgh rain, the previous Saturday, a Welsh drizzly version of precipitation welcomed them to a packed Principality Stadium.

In a pulsating match Wales found a physicality so sadly missing in Dublin, and got the better of the exchanges against a tough and talented Scotland side.

For Wales this match was old school, it was about passion, desire and sheer bloody mindedness, it was also old school in the stands with a 73,000 choral legion backing track of Bread of Heaven, Hymns & Arias and Calon Lan.

Nobody epitomised this spirit more than Wales fly half and captain Dan Biggar who received the quantity of in-match medical treatment that would make BUPA shareholders wince. Biggar is a warrior, he eventually limped off just before the end, but not before kicking a 50 metre penalty to within metres of the Scottish try line.

It was Biggar’s One hundredth test appearance and he kicked 15 points including the match winning drop goal in the 69th minute after Finn Russell had been yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.

Scotland with Hogg and Russell can light up the darkest of days, but on this occasion they couldn’t turn up the dimmer switch, the Scots in fairness did very little wrong, it was just that sort of day, Wales simply refused to be beaten.

Ryan Jones the 2005 Wales Grand Slam captain coined a phrase for Wales which was Bouncebackability”, they very rarely give back to back poor performances, Yesterday in the twilight and the cascading misty rain of Cardiff the three feathers shone through the gloom, and honour was restored.

Wales head to Twickenham in two weeks time and Scotland entertain France, this wonderful championship still has a few surprises up its sleeve. Murrayfield has never been a happy hunting ground for France so watch this space. But for now we can all take a deep breath, and after all we have been through in recent years give thanks for big crowds great rugby occasions and most importantly our rugby friends.

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