Land of my fathers

Reading David Hepworth’s blog today, I was struck by a real moment of homesickness. Not because of friends and family, who clearly I always miss being away from. But strangely, considering that I could never be considered particularly patriotic, it was all because of a national anthem.

The Rugby World Cup starts this weekend, with the hosts France having already been beaten by Argentina. I’ve seen a handful of rugby matches in my time, but when it comes down to it, I’m no desperate fan of the game. More specifically, it’s the supporters that I don’t like, particularly the unique brand of smarmy England rugby fan who thinks the world revolves around him.

Admittedly, I’m a Welshman at heart, and with that comes certain responsibilities. Not least of which is supporting the Welsh in any sporting endeavour against the English, whether it’s a game of football or a particularly vindictive game of tiddlywinks. Of course, such commitment brings with it a certain amount of disappointment – the Welsh don’t often beat the English at anything. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the recent revival in Welsh rugby, we’d have been drowning our sorrows for many a long year.

But one place where we truly beat the English is with the national anthem. The Welsh anthem “Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” (translates as “The Land Of My Fathers”) encapsulates the passion and commitment that the Welsh have for their rugby team. It’s the ultimate barnstormer to send the troops into battle, while the English struggle even to identify an anthem from the turgid ranks of “God Save The Queen”, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” or the marginally more acceptable “I Vow To Thee, My Country”.

As David identifies, there’s always one rugby player who is so caught up in what it means to sing the anthem and represent Wales, that he can barely spit the words out. Fortunately, there’s fourteen other players who sing it so hard that the veins in their neck threaten to burst.

If you want to understand what passion is all about, take a look at the Welsh national anthem below.

In part 654 of Great Lines That You Wish You’d Written, David sums it up perfectly:

“If Planet Earth was going to have one national anthem to play before its first game against Mars, this is it.”

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