My Friday Night: Rugby, Prosecco and Bagpipes

This weekend there has been a Celtic Festival in my local town. On Friday, Wales played Ireland in rugby. So on Friday night, I listened to bagpipes, watched the match, danced to folk songs, and drank prosecco. It was wonderfully mixed up and brilliantly different.

We were sitting in our red shirts waiting for the rugby to start when the doors of the auditorium burst open behind us, and in marched 9 bagpipe players and 5 drummers. The room exploded with sound. The bagpipes themselves were deafening, but add them to the beat of the drums, and you have the perfect pre-war motivation. I felt as though I was ready for battle. Exactly the type of music to play before a rugby match in Wales.

Now in general, I’m not the biggest fan of rugby. I tend to lose interest when the players spend more than 30 seconds in a spinning group hug.* BUT, I do like to watch when Wales play. Recently, I’ve started to understand a lot more of the rules, and differentiate the players from each other — prompted by my boyfriend’s VERY strong opinions, which become a lot louder after his 5th pint. Watching a home game in the stadium is brilliant, and for me, it’s as much about the atmosphere as it is the game itself. There’s a kind of telepathy that exists in a room where multiple Welsh people are watching their team play rugby. Somehow, everyone knows exactly the right tone in which to cheer. I don’t mean that they just cheer at the same time, because obviously, cheers happen when we’re close to scoring a try, what I mean is that the cheers themselves sound exactly the same. Volume, pitch — it might be creepy if it wasn’t so exciting. Wales beat Ireland on Friday, so we had lots and lots of cheers. And, inevitably, lots of standing up — again, in sync.

As well as telepathy, rugby in Wales seems to remove any barriers between all of the people watching. Anyone can speak to anyone, because everyone will have the same opinion — KNOCK ON REF! — and so everyone agrees. I reckon a room full of Welsh men could be brought to elation in 80 minutes. Or riled up to the point of madness. Dependent on the score, obviously. Maybe I’ll test it out one day.

After the match had finished, and I was on my third glass of prosecco (I’m not a beer person), the stage was taken by a band that played a fusion of Celtic/folk/pop music. It was impossible not to tap along with them, and before long I declared that if I ever happen to have children, they will have the option to either play the bagpipes or learn Irish dancing. Or maybe both. At the same time. That really would be something special.

*Disclaimer — I do actually know that it’s called a scrum, but for a while I just couldn’t understand why no one went in the middle and just grabbed the ball.

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