Ifan Morgan Jones
The insistence that Welsh fans support England when they get further at a Football or Rugby World Cup has always struck me as an odd one.
Wales and England are rivals in sport. Geographic proximity in sport doesn’t mean support like each other – quite the opposite in fact.
No one would expect Manchester City to support Manchester United, Everton to support Liverpool or Swansea to support Cardiff. When these sides compete against each other, it’s a local rivalry.
However, I have no particular reason to support South Africa going into the Rugby World Cup Final either and felt that England probably deserved the World Cup.
In last week’s win against the All Blacks they had played the best rugby of the competition and no Welsh fan would have had any complaints if they had lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy.
Clive Woodward’s comments at half time, however, had my donning dark green and cheering on the Springboks instead.
“The SA team that played against Wales are a completely different side,” he said at half-time.
Essentially, he was claiming that the South Africa playing England were a step above the one that narrowly beat Wales by a last-minute penalty last week.
I have nothing against the English or English rugby fans, but England’s media pundits are insufferable. No-one can have any complaints that others dislike their team when their pundits are this arrogant.
This was exactly the same South Africa team that played Wales. There are no surprises with South Africa – their tactics were identical.
The only difference was that Pollard missed an early kick against England, while he had a 100% record against Wales.
Despite this, Wales were a missed Rhys Patchell drop-goal away from a final spot last week.
In comparison, England were a bag of nerves in the first half of the Rugby World Cup Final. They dragged themselves into contention in the second half but the South Africa boa constrictor soon squeezed the life out of them, before delivering the coup de grace with two late tries. They were well beaten 12-32.
Clive Woodward’s comments were entirely without merit. Wales, who have beaten England twice this year, played better last week than they did this week.
It’s not just Clive Woodward, however. Yesterday we had Stuart Barnes claim that Wales, Grand Slam champions and World Cup semi-finalists, were not a “top table team”.
If England really wants the support of Welsh rugby fans, perhaps they should ask their pundits to lay off the arrogant condescension.
Otherwise, they can have no complaints when Welsh fans would rather their sporting opponents put them to the sword.