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England v Wales: Love the rivalry? Or hate it?

Love it: Mared Perry

Having been born and raised in a very patriotic Welsh family, rugby has always been a big part of my life. There’s nothing better than heading down to the local pub on match day to cheer and chant for our boys over a pint or seven. It doesn’t matter who we’re up against, we’ll always scream ’til our voices are hoarse. But there’s always one team we’ll go bananas for dissing, the team we love to hate. England.

“As long as we beat the English,” is something that the Welsh abide by when it comes to rugby. I’ve never seen any two countries with such rivalry: I find it hilarious! At the end of the day – it’s all a bit of fun and adds to the passion of the game. Out of the whole rugby context, the Welsh have no problem with the English at all. Most of my friends at university are English, and I love them to bits. But when the rugby’s on, I detest them, and they detest me. It’s all fun and games!

The competitions of “who can sing their anthems the loudest?” in the pubs and in the street whilst the game’s on just adds to the fun of watching a game. The chants of “Wales, Wales!” vs “England, England!” excite me! If people simply went to watch the game peacefully, and not say a bad word against the other team, where would be the fun in that?

In all honesty, what kind of fan would you be if you didn’t hate the opposing team?! Sure, we want Wales to win, no matter which team we play, but this light-hearted ‘hate’ towards England is pretty much rugby tradition. We love to hate them and they love to hate us. Anyone who thinks the rivalry is anything more than harmless fun needs to lighten up – that’s clearly all it is!

At the end of the game, the players on both teams shake hands and congratulate each other, and everything goes back to normal, just like it does for the fans. Whoever loses, they will feel the wrath of the other team, no doubt, and have it rubbed in their faces until the other side wins again. To me, and most of the other Welsh rugby supporters, this huge rivalry with the England team is a part of loving the sport and loving our country. Match days simply wouldn’t be the same without it.

Hate it: Charley Griffiths

Rugby is meant to be seen as a gentleman’s sport, a ‘higher’ class sport than football. Well, this is what has been told to me by friends who are die-hard rugby fans. I am only a recent convert to rugby, as I only started watching it when the World Cup began. I find the so called ‘banter’ can often go too far, even though it is supposed to be fun and harmless.

Being half Welsh and half English, the rugby quite literally splits my family and friends in two. After Wales defeated England, one side of my family didn’t speak to the other, and if they did, it got very heated very quickly. Competition is a major part of sport – I get that – but it seems to be more political than anything. The rugby suddenly turns the average Joe into a spontaneous sports correspondent and political expert, using the rugby to justify everything from civil unrest to historical rivalries and grudges.

It’s been said that the Welsh tend to support two teams: Wales, and whoever is playing against England. As someone who is in both camps, I can appreciate how both teams played well, and both have strengths and weaknesses. It seems odd to demean one team in order to raise the status of another. I supported Wales purely because I am currently in Wales. If I had watched the game with my English family, obviously the opposite would be relevant. But my opinion of my friends isn’t reflected on what team they support, I just enjoy the atmosphere.

I think the problem I have is that people can actually be ‘too’ patriotic. It’s just a sport at the end of the day. I am all for supporting your country, and having a friendly rivalry with the opposing team. I like watching games where England or Wales aren’t playing, and supporting the underdog. (Do I mention Japan v South Africa?) But part of the problem in fact, can be that people get way too touchy about the banter. I was in town on the night of the Welsh triumph over England, and I heard the chant “shove your fucking chariots up your arse” so much that I was immune to it by the end, yet some people still chose to be angry over it. Just accept the facts: your team didn’t win; better luck at the next World Cup. There is no need to fight with your friends about it. Have a pint, and enjoy the game, regardless of who you support.

 

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  • Sorry guys, but as an Englishman living in Cardiff this is not ‘banter’. It is racism plain and simple.

    How many times have I heard ‘I f*cking hate the English’ in the context of rugby. If I were to ever say ‘I hate Pakistanis’ I would rightly be called a racist.

    Just because there is no difference in skin colour (for the majority! I would never assume that all English/Welsh are white!) doesn’t make this any less discrimination.

    Some people will say they are supporting the underdog. No, you are supporting whichever team England play, and you take great pride in England losing.

    Don’t make excuses. Don’t call it banter. If you are going to be a racist, at least have the decency to acknowledge that this is what you are.

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