All fired up for the real Dragons’ Den

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Nid wy’n gofyn bywyd moethus,
Aur y byd na’i berlau mân:
Gofyn rwyf am galon hapus,
Calon onest, calon lân.

Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na’r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu
Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos.

Tomorrow my autumn sporting odyssey continues, and I am (literally) back on familiar ground. After a brief flirtation with golf earlier this month, and cricket in October, this weekend I renew my acquaintance with the greatest game on earth – rugby union – in the greatest sporting venue on the planet – the Millennium Stadium. Alas, Wales will be lining up against the world’s greatest rugby team, the mighty All Blacks, and I am going to the match with one Martin Moodie, my Christchurch-born boss…

The Moodie Report’s Rebecca Mann at the Millennium Stadium in February

I have run all the numbers, as they say, and come to the conclusion that there is no way this can possibly end well. Should Wales somehow win (c’mon, the boys in black are surely due an off day), I will most certainly be dusting down my CV come Monday morning; this could be my final Blog. Should Wales lose…well, I’ll probably still be unemployed – dismissed for subordination – or at the very least MIA, in the depths of despair, somewhere in the back alleys of Cardiff. The only thing Mr Moodie and I will have in common this weekend, other than a raging hangover come Sunday, is our mutual loathing of Saturday’s ref Wayne Barnes, a man so utterly inept he makes Alain Rolland – of whom more below – look competent.

Wales v New Zealand is, of course, the showdown every proper rugby fan wanted for the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). That dream was scuppered by one-eyed, half-French ref Rolland, who controversially (that is the censored version) awarded Wales captain Sam Warburton a red card in the semi-final against, oh would you believe it, France, for an alleged tip tackle. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A YELLOW will be carved into my tombstone – or better yet, Rolland’s head, if I ever get my hands on him.

Pre-match manicure – nailed!

Wales subsequently played a blinder with just 14 men, but eventually lost the match 9-8. In RWC terms, for me, that will always, always be the one that got away – particularly given a) our current form and b) the prospects facing us in the so-called “Pool of Death” in next year’s competition.

Still, three years too late, I’ve got the match I wanted. My head knows full well that a Welsh victory tomorrow is unlikely. My heart has other ideas, however, and my soul will simply revel in the privilege of watching Wales, amongst my own, in the Millennium Stadium. For an hour or so at least, my ever-present hiraeth will be assuaged.

The atmosphere in the Millennium is second to none, and I have been fortunate enough to see us win many a game there, most recently this February, when Wales decimated France 27-6 in the Six Nations (added bonus: booing that man Rolland, who frankly would have needed a police escort to get home if he’d messed up again). The singing, the camaraderie, the sheer Welshness of it all is manna from above (or should that be Bread of Heaven?) for an exile such as I.

From one dragon to another: come on the bois!

Neither Wales nor New Zealand covered themselves in glory last weekend, although both managed to grind out victories, against Fiji and Scotland, respectively (by contrast, England lost. Again. 0 from 5 now, I believe?). My team will have to raise its game stratospherically to avoid public humiliation tomorrow – never mind actually winning – but as a true Cymraes I am genetically programmed to believe that this is possible.

Naturally I will do everything I can to help, donning every lucky red garment I possess; painting flags on my fingernails; and praying fervently to St David, my late father and anyone else up there who might be able to put in a good word with the fickle gods of rugby.

To paraphrase John Cleese, I can take the despair, it’s the hope that always finishes me. Here’s hoping that tomorrow we finish off the All Blacks instead. #CymruAmByth