World rugby supporters will be watching with interest this weekend’s 6 Nations England versus Wales fixture. Since England’s World Cup implosion last year, and the success Wales achieved in recording a victory over Ireland and some close defeats to other teams at the same competition, the northern hemisphere arrogance mantle appeared to have moved eastwards over the Severn Bridge. However it has yet to be officially put on the line in a match day scenario of doom*.
A French World Cup final appearance may have produced another contender, but in their traditional Gallic shoulder shrugging style, the French don’t seem to give too much of a toss about such things. Instead, despite England holding the arrogance crown since the early 1990s and appearing to retain it regardless of being pretty much hopeless since 2003, Wales are now making significant claims on the mythical trophy.
The Welsh rise is even more remarkable when it is remembered that the team was playing in the Insecurity Championship little more than 6 months ago. Despite winning a couple of Grand Slams in the last decade, Wales refused to take promotion from the Insecurity Championship when it was offered.
Paradoxically it has taken Wales, currently ranked 6th in the world, some victories over teams lower in the IRB World Rankings and a couple of close defeats against higher ranked teams to persuade the Welsh to take a tilt at England’s crown. With England ranked one place higher than the Welsh ahead of the Twickenham encounter, the fixture looks as if it may definitively tip northern hemisphere rugby arrogance one way or another.
IJS must declare an interest here, so is not prepared to predict a victor, as being English he cannot be relied upon to make an emotionless, non-arrogant judgement. But I’ll tell you one thing. The English are angry, they want their arrogance back. And another thing (so that’s technically two things, sorry). This thing. Fans of every other nation know that despite not playing, they will almost certainly be the loser**.
* I’ve used the word ‘doom’ there to emphasise the point, although to be honest it might be over emphasising. You decide. Yeah!
** There will be no change in status for the Scots.