Ah, the dark days when football dominated the sports headlines are over and we are back into the glorious season of the Rugby Union RBS Six Nations Championship. Rugby Union, really the only sport that merits the name sport and light years away from the namby-pambyism of the soccer-pitch.
Anyway, yesterday the 2014 season of the Chamionship kicked off to an excellent start with two very good games.
Wales, the current holders of the Championship, had the honour to host the first match against Italy, played in Caerdydd, and this was followed across the Channel in Paris, where France hosted the team from England.
Four teams and three decent anthems to get the season going: Wales's rather sentimental, but stirring Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (introduced by the French commentator on France 2 as Land of My Fathers for some peculiar reason: if a Frenchman is going to give a title in a foreign language, he can just as well use the language of the song as English, surely?); the Italian anthem, which, let's be honest, bears more resemblance to an opera in two parts than to an anthem, but is wonderful; and then the superb battle-cry of La Marseillaise. Three wonderful, powerful numbers, bellowed out by players, staff and supporters alike and in stark contrast to the call to a mythical being to look after an old woman (God Save The Queen), as sung (if one can use that term) by the English.
Both matches offered some pretty good rugby, with Italy showing still more improvement and giving Wales a good run for their money, even if Wales was never in any real danger. Wales came through well and showed plenty of promise for the rest of the championship, but more work is required and indiscipline (get rid of prop Paul James) can't be tolerated.
The final score of Wales 25 Italy 17 was a fair reflection of the play.
France scared England with a try almost from kick-off and continued to scare England throughout the first half. England came back well in the second half, but Gallic guts won the day and the last ten minutes were all for France, who bravely won an excellent match with a final score of France 26 England 24.
It might be helpful to mention something about the national flags. An English supporter in Paris was frantically waving a Union Flag (commonly called a Jack); the plonker was wrong on two counts: firstly, it is not the flag of England, but that of the United Kingdom (the red cross of Saint George is the English flag); secondly, the flag was flying upside-down. Normally, flying a flag upside down signifies a call for help, so perhaps, given the result, this was deliberate…