After a hard fought Rugby Match yesterday Wales is now the only Nation that can win the Grandslam.
I suppose I am shamelessly jumping on the well oiled band wagon, by even posting this piece, but wanted to give my outside of Wales friends a taste of yesterday.
We're a Nation of 3 million people and I would comfortably say over half watched the Match yesterday. I was in Swansea in the morning and I arrived in time to see a couple of thousand people in a queue for the train to Cardiff. It was the same on my return to Neath, more people than seats, carriages full of spontaneous song. People laughing and smiling, it seems without a care in the world.
Wales is the only Rugby playing Nation in the world, which signs hymns in it's Rugby matches. This no doubt an overspill of the last 1904 Revival, where 100,000 (10% of the entire population) came to Christ.
Rugby has become Wales National religion for this moment in time. I pray we will see God take centre stage in the Nation again some day, not just singing in a Rugby Game, but transformation touching families, streets, towns and cities across our tiny Nation.
The Welsh are passionate and vibrant in their pursuit of supporting anything, but Rugby takes that to another level.
There's continuous debate about the Welsh Coach, how well He is performing and the strategy of the game. The coach can be a hero, useless, a strategist and a waster all within the time it takes to win or loose a match.
Then of course the rivalries of the Nations we play. Ireland and particularly Scotland always end up drowning their sorrows or celebrating together win or loose a game and as the games are played at home or away, there's literally thousands of homes opened up for hospitality and banter and friendships are made over many years.
I remember my dad, going to Scotland 'On Tour' from our local Rugby club. On two separate occasions his seat in the stadium was immediately behind a huge pillar, which supported the roof. That was considered hilarious to everyone except my Father, who the second time it happened retreated to the nearest TV he could find.
Yesterday was a grudge match with a lowercase 'g'. The rivalry with England has gone on for years. No one really wants to get to the root causes of the division or the distance in relationship, but the fact that Wales won on home turf in the second half of the match will be talked about for years.
Warren Gatland (The Coach) is well on his way to reaching 'Legend' status, further coupled with the fact that he commented after the match that 'England did not put us under any pressure'. I think that was a little tongue in cheek after seeing the first half of the game.
Our culture like many others in different ways wants and needs to rally around a cause. Wants to find it's identity in something, wants to have a common bond of unity, where you could turn and talk in depth to a complete stranger on a bus or a train and talk like you've known each other for years.
Rugby does that for Wales, and seeing the thousands yesterday travelling to the hallow turf of the Principality Stadium in Cardiff (The would have been ten times more people outside than inside). The Sport is obviously as alive in our Nation as it's ever been.
For my American Friends, the ball is shaped the same as your 'football'. The players don't wear body armour or earn millions of pounds. The game is two periods of 40 minutes with a 10 minute break. Neither Skittles, Pepsi or Bud Light sponsor the game. We don't have 'touch downs', we do have try's, when the ball is kicked between the post it's called a conversion and the game is not constantly interrupted when you play.
It is a game of rough and tumble, and thinking back to my childhood, it seemed the whole world watched the game when JPR Williams cheek was sliced open. He walked off, sowed his cheek back together (being a doctor) and came back on to play.
yesterdays game will become a currency of conversation for weeks to come, the passes, kicks, trys and conversions. The lost moments, the laughs and tears.
As a poignant close, I dream of a day the Church would unite like a Rugby Team, play as a Nation and see over half the entire country unite behind Jesus in just one Day !!