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The six rugby fans you always meet in the pub at Six Nations time

03 Feb 2024 6 minute read
Welsh rugby fans. Picture by Infomatique (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Luke Upton

1. The Expert
You’re lucky to be in his company (and it is always a he) and what will unfold across the 80 minutes will be a masterclass of insight and expertise so good he’ll expect you to be writing it down.

As soon as the game kicks off you’ll hear a non-stop stream of observations about pods, phases and line-speed all uttered just that bit too loud.

Is likely to be found standing at the bar, even if seats are available so the most people possible number can hear their opinions.

Calls the rugby ball the pill because that’s what the All Blacks do. Doesn’t say World Cup, instead always calls it the Webb Ellis Cup in slightly whispered reverential tones. Likes to call the fly half, the first five eighth but refuses to explain why. Writes ‘the XV’ in his WhatsApp’s when referring to the Wales team.

Thinks he invented the term ‘underlap’, so likes to use it a lot.

Most likely to say: “Every time ref” after each penalty or free kick is awarded.

Least likely to say: “I don’t know why he’s given that.”

2. The Content Creator
Sees the Six Nations as a huge opportunity to create some winning #content for TikTok, the ‘gram, X or if aiming for the old folks, Facebook.

Their finger is always hovering over the record button on their phone ready for a crowd reaction to a magic moment of bitter failure. Ideally, they are hoping for some extreme and very shareable responses to what Wales are doing. Big wins or humiliations are preferred.

But that’s not all, perhaps someone will spill loads of pints. Or the pub will have a cute dog. There might be an iconic retro shirt on show. Or maybe the pints of Guinness will look particularly good or bad.

Whatever’s going on, they always have an eye on how it could be shared with their network. So, watch out, you could be viral before you know it.

Most likely to say: “Could you drop your pint again, but slower please.”

Least likely to say: “Sorry, I left my phone at home.”

3. The I Know Him
They know him, don’t you know. Yes, the fella up there on the big screen. Him up there. They know him. Did they mention that? They played rugby with him in school.

And do you know what? He wasn’t that good back then. He really wasn’t. If anything, they were better. Funny that, eh? But they’ve got great memories together. Great times.

Secondary school? No, no, it was Primary. But still, hard to believe we were teammates. Do they still see them? Not recently, no, about ten years ago. They had a great chat.

He follows him on Instagram but is not sure if he is followed back, he claims he hasn’t checked. But their mum’s do Pilates together in the local church hall, so they are still close. Very close.

Most likely to say: “I still can’t believe we used to be teammates.”

Least likely to say: “It was only for three games. Twenty-five years ago.”

4. The Absolute Misery
It doesn’t matter what’s happening on the pitch, it’s not going to end well. Even if it does end well, it doesn’t end well enough.

The team is terrible. The manager has no idea. The crowd is full of the wrong sort of fans. The grass is too short. The games are in the wrong order. The camera angles are confusing. The sponsors are stupid. The kick off times aren’t what they used to be. The commentators are clueless.

They seem to relish a Wales hammering and consider most of the ’90s a ‘golden era’ in that respect. Uncomfortable with success, they do however like it when Wales win and Gatland doesn’t crack a smile.

When Wales won the Grand Slam in 2005, they celebrated by buying a packet of Scampi Fries to go with their pint of Mild.

Most likely to say: “Abbssaaa-bloody-useless” (slams fist on table)

Least likely to say: “Ohhh, do you know what? I really enjoyed that.”

5. The Five Week Fan
It’s not that hard, right? Wales are always in red. You recognise George North and Josh Adams, and Gatland is back (did he actually leave, they wonder).

They like rugby, sure, but just not that much. They like football more and real-life crime documentaries on Netflix most of all.

But all the gang go to the games, and it’s an excuse just to spend the day in the pub with no one minding. It helps them get along with their boss on a Monday morning.

They keep pretty quiet, not offering too much and they properly clam up when the conversation moves to naming all the hookers in the 2007 World Cup squad* or who the most capped Welshman never to go on a Lions tour was.**

Most likely to say: “I’ll get the drinks; I don’t mind queuing.”

Least likely to say: “For me, Hallam Amos, is the great what if of modern Welsh rugby”

6. The Partner
Duty? Obligation? Love? They know what they are like when they’ve been on the beer all day and need to keep an eye on them?

Whatever their reason, you’ll find them perched next to their partner, half looking at the game, half at their phones. Cheering at most of the obviously key moments, checking people’s reactions for less clear parts of the game before reacting.

They are great at spotting other partners in the group, and strategically moving towards them, at which point chats about work, mortgages and the Traitors suddenly becomes far more appealing.

If early in the relationship, they are silently weighing up if they want to do this all their life.

Most likely to say: “Is this one of those pubs that has free newspapers?”

Least likely to say: “If the game kicks off at 5, we’d better get here at 1 to get a table.”

*Huw Bennett, Matthew Rees and T Rhys Thomas
**Gareth Llewellyn.

Luke Upton is the author of three rugby books, the non-fiction anthologies Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks and Hard Men of Rugby and the satire Absolutely Huge all published by Y Lolfa , available online and from all good bookshops.

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5 months ago

7 – The one who reads this and says “Yeah, you missed one…”

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