Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Day at Twickenham: Six Nations England Vs. Wales

One of my first observations in the U.K. was that the Brits are huge sports fans. Every Monday I somehow manage to get stuck in the kitchen surrounded by my colleagues who love to recap and analyze the entire weekend in sport. Whether it’s the Premiere League Football, Formula 1 Racing, whatever Grand Slam Tennis tournament is on at the time, the Cricket, Golf, Rugby, you name it. I even get dragged in from time to time when asked about the NBA or who I’m going for in the Super Bowl. And in honor of the Super Bowl, why not spend the weekend with its great predecessor, Rugby and what better way to start than the opening match of the Six Nations at Twickenham in London? This is a massive sporting event in Europe so I was very lucky to be offered up a much coveted ticket from my boss who is an avid Rugby fan.

The Six Nations is an international competition played between six Rugby nation clubs; England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and France. During the competition there are various trophies and awards to be won, but the biggest and most important being the Grand Slam or the one team that beats all five of the other teams. If you follow American football you can easily follow the basic objectives and scoring of the game. In fact I prefer it to “football” (read: soccer) and definitely favor it over cricket (sorry Dad).

A Six Nations match, like any major sporting event is truly an all-day event and something to be experienced, especially at the world famous Twickenham Stadium near the beautiful and leafy neighborhood of Richmond in west London. The competitive atmosphere of the game combined with the contagious positive energy of the crowd ensures that you are drawn into the sport and actively participate in the good-natured banter of the opposing fans sitting near you. In the end England won, but Wales did make a good drive in the second half. While I was rooting for England during most of the game, for some unexplained reason, as Wales made an inspirational drive towards the end of the game, part of me hoped for an upset. Perhaps it was the good-natured Welsh fans sitting next to me, a sense of anti-imperialist anxiety, or some sudden and strange affiliation with Wales based on my mother’s maiden name, who knows. However, ultimately England prevailed and probably a good thing for me in the long run as I was at the game with English people. As it turns out, even though I didn’t see an upset on Saturday, New Orleans more than more up for it against Indianapolis on Sunday evening at that championship game of the American cousin of Rugby.


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