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Wales v Italy: Here we Goa again

16 Mar 2024 4 minute read
The go-to spot for watching rugby in the Rhondda

Ben Wildsmith

Having been at the stadium to witness Wales capitulating to France and, more depressingly, our supporters be shamed into whimpering submission, it was tempting not to bother this week.

I reckon I’m the most irritatingly positive silver-lining chaser in the Welsh rugby media, possibly in Wales full-stop.

‘It’s a young team, there are encouraging signs, Gatland knows what he’s doing etc etc etc.’

So, when the opportunity came up to go to India, I’ll admit it was tempting.

Temperatures in Goa are currently averaging in the mid-30s whilst, in Porth, it has been raining since the late Middle Ages.

I was reminded, however, that mine is a rare calling. I am, as Andrew RT Davies never tires of reminding me, partly funded by, and thus in the pocket of the Welsh Government.

So, not being wet and cold until the bitter end of the most depressing Six Nations since the bitter end of the last most depressing Six Nations would be an abrogation of duty.

The match day cawl was spicier than usual

Fortunately, my disappointment coincided with the surprise opening of a new Bracchi Shop in Tylorstown.

The Royal Italy is set on a charming, winding lane flanked by coconut trees, just off the old road to Pontygwaith.

It is conveniently served by a reliable WiFi connection and, bless them, air conditioning.

So, with the final game being against Italy, it made all sorts of sense to cancel our travel plans and watch the Welsh renaissance there.

Giuseppe, Luigi, and Mario gloated at my expense

I’d assumed that being amongst Italian fans would be a triumphant experience.

I’ve previously enjoyed smiling beneficently at them and emphasising how well their team has done under an onslaught of steely, Welsh professionalism.

Before the game, enjoying a traditional Italian masala chai, I was reassured by an interview with Warren Gatland in which he underscored that playing for the Wooden Spoon was, in fact, the pinnacle of sporting achievement.

Not resembling Joe Biden whatsoever, he offered a weak smile in the face of providence, before shuffling off to observe the wages of his senility.

Bernie and Sioned: verified Welsh people.

But, ferchrissakesmun WTF was that?

In the unusually furnace-like heat of Tylorstown, it became impossible to paint this loss to Italy as anything else but deserved.

I wanted, initially, to blame things on the ref, whose red-hot whistle seemed only tuned to Welsh transgressions.

Shamefully, some Welsh fans were turned away.

As the game went on, though, and every possible moment of opportunity was squandered in fumbling, adolescent incompetence, his authority evaporated for good.

Yes, there are structural problems, yes the team is young, but you’re on a blydi fortune Warren, and we expect to beat Italy as a bare minimum.

When George North was carted off at the end like Boxer in Animal Farm I choked on my samosa.

Author with Satyam, who has been appointed by incoming FM Vaughan Gething to solve the public transport deficit in Rhondda Fach

In the tuk-tuk back to Ynyshir, the mood was dark. I don’t go all the way to Tylorstown for this sort of outcome.

Yes, Wales broke my heart yet again today, but at least I saw a monkey in Wattstown.

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