Get set for another stirring rendition of the Welsh national anthem
A Wales vs England rugby match is always a highlight in the sporting calendar. This year, Wales will be taking on England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday in the third round of this year’s Six Nations championship. With a Grand Slam at stake, get set for what should be the best rendition of the Welsh national anthem, Old Land of My Fathers, since 2013.
Because that was the last time the Welsh and English teams played each other, with the Six Nations title at stake. It was the last match of the tournament for both, with England going for the Grand Slam. Though they couldn’t win the Slam, Wales was still in the running for the Six Nations title if they won by a large enough margin.
So came this memorable pre-match rendition of the Welsh national anthem in the build-up, one of the best in memory:
As they are this year, England were favorites for that match, but were well and truly thumped by the inspired Welsh Dragons, who scored two tries to nil in a 30-3 win.
What’s at stake 2019
This year, the match will be a showdown between the only two unbeaten teams in the tournament.
Both have won their first two games. Wales sneaked past France in Paris and beat Italy with a second team; while England smashed defending champions Ireland in Dublin and a hapless France at home.
So whoever wins on Saturday can go on to take out the Grand Slam; that is, beating all the other five teams.
For England, that task is much easier as their final two matches are at home and against their two weakest opponents, Italy and Scotland.
Wales will finish up against Scotland (away) and a smarting Ireland (at home). So even if they beat England on Saturday, the Slam is not a gimme for the Welsh. The Irish are still smarting from their loss to England and might well want to finish on a high.
But as usual, for Wales and England, there is more than a rugby match at stake.
Why Wales vs England rugby is usually spicy
Had the Rugby World Cup begun in the 1970s, Wales would probably have won the William Webb Ellis Cup more times than England by now.
This is because Wales were the undoubted powerhouses among the British nations over the 1960s and 70s. Until England came out of their stupor and won the Grand Slam in 1980. They then went on to a dream run through the late 1980s under Will Carling and co.
But one thing that has never changed is the animosity between the two neighbours.
There are many historical reasons for this enmity. But whatever they are, the English seem to have saved some of their choicest insults for the Welsh.
Here are some, by famous people, easily found on the internet:
England coach Eddie Jones, for one, though not an Englishman, couldn’t help but get into the act, calling Wales a “little sh!t place”.
English writer AN Wilson, a man who has written widely on history, religion and culture, and who really should know better, once said: “The Welsh have never made any significant contribution to any branch of knowledge, culture or entertainment. They have no architecture, no gastronomic tradition, no literature worthy of the name.”
And there was also the late food and TV critic, A. A. Gill, who unkindly said the Welsh were “loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls”.
Meanwhile, about the worst thing heard in Welsh dressing room team talks is that “the English have always looked down on us”, and that “they buy up our houses to use as holiday homes”.
The last time they met in Cardiff
Then there is a little matter of the last time the two teams played each other in Cardiff.
Wales were leading with about five minutes to play when centre Jonathan Davies failed to find touch with his clearing kick. And two fantastic passes later, England scored the winning try in the corner, through Elliot Daly.
Daly was the left-winger that day, but is now the fullback. The man he beat in the corner to score, you may notice, is the same player who scored the two tries against England in 2013, Alex Cuthbert. What goes around, and all that, I guess.
So if that late stab doesn’t work up the Welsh for revenge, then nothing will.
So who will win?
If strange coincidences are any guide, then it will be the Welsh. As the Guardian’s Robert Kitson revealed, Wales have won this fixture in all the years ending with 9 since 1949.
Yes, Wales have beaten England in 1949, 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009. All those games were in Cardiff, aside from 1999, when the match was played at Wembley in London but was deemed a home match for Wales while work was being done on the Millennium Stadium.
So this being 2019 …..
But a more concrete reason to bet on Wales is the fact that while we have seen England at or obviously near their best, Wales have won both their rugby matches while not playing well.
Add in the home ground factor, plus the fact that the Welsh are seeking a record 12th win on the trot, plus England have lost Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Chris Ashton through injury, then the odds the bookmakers have placed on Wales are looking pretty good: Wales (2.60) vs England (1.50).
Where to get tickets
Six nations tickets are always in high demand and often sold-out weeks in advance. But you can still check availability for last-minute 6nations tickets here; including all your Wales vs England rugby matches.