Well there are a lot of happy Welsh humans and Welsh Terriers this week with a narrow victory over Ireland on Sunday. It was definitely the best of the three matches over the weekend. My human servants remain gloomy after Scotland's defeat by England despite having the better of the possession. Tough!!!
I had better explain to my American friends that I am talking about human Rugby Union Football. They would all have been glued to the set watching the Super Bowl, the highlight of what they call Football and every other human in the World calls American Football.
As I understand it, in the human world, ball games had various names but for nearly 2,000 years in the British Isles the favourite was to move a piece of leather from one village to another by an indeterminate number of humans, sometimes many hundred, by whatever means available; biting, spitting, kicking, throwing (both ball and opposition), hiding ball up clothing, using sticks and clubs - in other words by whatever means possible. During the first part of the19th century the British started codifying the game and in fact found that they could get several different codes out of this one game. Strangely, the idea of handling the ball was dropped - except for goalkeepers - and the means of moving the ball around was restricted to any part of the body apart from the hands and forearms. Could have been named Headshoulderchestbackfootandarseball but Football was the name that stuck. A good name as over 90% of the game today is played by kicking the ball with a foot!
This idea of not handling the ball (though originally you could catch the ball and punt or drop-kick it) lasted but a few years as a pupil of Rugby School, William Webb Ellis, caught the ball (permitted) and then ran holding the ball (definitely NOT permitted). Thus the idea of handling the ball returned to The British Isles. The name Rugby Union Football was given to this new game and the ball took on its new shape to assist handling. Later Rugby League Football developed in the North of England which broke the then amateur code as the players were poor miners rather than gentlemen, and were paid in lieu of the time taken off work. Team numbers in Rugby League were reduced to 13 from 15 for purely financial reasons. There can be a good deal of kicking the ball in Rugby Union, less in Rugby League but in both games more than in American Football. This game developed from Rugby Union by a similar breaking of the rules - the forward pass! The strange thing about this game is that apart from kicking for goal, the ball rarely makes any contact with the foot! The game in America where the ball is kicked with the feet is called Soccer!!! which comes from our term "Association" Football ie. FOOTBALL!
But I digress! My reason for writing is nothing to do with the human 6 Nations Rugby Union Football tournament, but the far more exciting 6 Nations Mouthball Tournament. Feet are for running, digging, leaping and pawing. It is inconceivable that a human could sustain 80 or 90 minutes of mauling as in a game of mouthball...but we dogs!
My problem on the international stage is that I am Welsh. To field a full fifteen, our pack is made up entirely of Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis. That's the only weight we can muster and since tail docking is now illegal in this country, their surprisingly fox-like tails often get caught up during the scrummage. The English pack has the formidable Bulldog as hooker, two English Bull Terriers front row, Bull Mastiffs second row and it wouldn't surprise me if their No.8 was a a damned Hereford Bull there's so much beef in there! Now English wing forwards? Probably Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Yep, there's certainly a lot of Bull in England! English wing three quarters, well, I just have to say one name - "Greyhound"! Do you see where I'm coming from? Hmmmph! Pick who you like for the English backs. There is more choice than anywhere else in the world!
Fortunately, we do have our Welsh Sheepdog. This collie is intelligent, quick, agile, brave but being the fastest runner, we've got to play him as wing three quarter. Scotland unfortunately have play anywhere Bearded Collies, Rough Collies, Smooth Collies and the collie of all collies the Border Collie, so quick and intelligent that in agility trials he has to be given time penalties before he even starts. There's also the pugnacious Border Terrier for scrum-half, probably my pal Mac for this position but he's got to remember to pass the ball! That's not to mention the big Scottish fullback - the Deerhound second only to the Irish fullback the Wolfhound!
It's only fair that we give our Sealyham Terrier a game because, to be quite frank, we're running out of Welsh dogs. Well he's a terrier so scrum half. He's quick and IF our Corgies DO win a scrum he'll get the ball out to me (fly-half) effectively. Otherwise, he'll probably just get crushed by our pack as the scrum collapses.
As for the Italians? Be they Abruzzese Mastiffs, Maremma Sheepdogs, Italian Greyhounds, Levrieros or whatever, they will be too busy sipping the brandy from their St Bernard's barrel, polishing their sunglasses and saying "Ciaou bella!" to any female pooch spectator for us Welsh to be worried. The French, on the other hand have a formidable range of both backs and forwards to rival the English. The list is terrifying. Fortunately, I noted on my last trip to France that they have become so pampered by their servants that even the big forwards like the Briard and the feisty French Bulldog are decorated with bows, eat out in restaurants with humans and are, in fact, turning into poodles!
And me? Well the Welsh captain of course! And my position?...