"The only trophy we won this day, was the blood and sweat we left on the pitch.... and it was enough"
From the age of about 11 I have been absolutely infatuated with Rugby Union. As a young Full-back (15) on my middle school side, I built up my loyalty to the game..
However, I've never hidden that I was a player with somewhat limited skills and capabilities. Nonetheless, I loved playing Rugby. From middle school through to University, I've played in the Backs and Forwards for various sides.
Although I never was able to fully grasp playing the sport myself, I have always relished in spectating it. It's the key moments of Rugby that make it for me, the moments that make you gasp, the ones that make you laugh, and the ones you simply can't believe.
I make no bones about being a staunch England Rugby fan (as my Welsh friends very well know.)
However, I would be totally ignorant to deny the Welsh of some of the greatest Rugby moments in history.
If there was ever one Welshman to put his country on my list it was Gareth Edwards.
But this is not 'That Try' - This is a try that epitomizes that long conflict between Scotland and Wales
The tap of the ball was the most crucial part of this point scorer. I don't think my fellow English fans would let me get away without noting that luck was most possibly on Edwards' side that day. Edwards walks looking a proud, yet modest man. Quite rightly so.
A familiar face from England Rugby now. The youthful, pacey and damn right phenomenal Chris Ashton!
A lad criticized for his bolshy and confident attitude on the pitch. I personally think Ashton's a fantastic team player and a true asset to English Rugby Union, and this just proves it...
As Australia were forcing England into the depths of their line, some amazing play from the Backs in White to deliver a truly beautiful try. As the commentator says, "Now it's England making a statement!"
Possibly the most inspirational moment I've ever experienced in Rugby. As a Hooker, seeing a man of my position play with such anticipation and class is truly inspiring. One of the true English Bulldogs, Steve Thompson snaps it off Ireland. Watch the effort of Thompson as he paces for the line.
I remember watching this match and just knowing that Ireland had denied England of the Grand Slam they so desired. However, Thompson came on to the pitch and told the Irish "you may have won the day, but we're not going down without a fight." This show of strength and contest by one of the fathers of the England Rugby side conveyed the ever lasting importance of determination and experience on the Rugby pitch.
Perhaps the most dramatic and tense moment of Rugby I have ever witnessed. Without a doubt, this match sparked my interest in Rugby. The moment I am referring to is the final moments of Extra Time in the Final of the 2003 World Cup. A young man stood up to the mark and produced arguably one of the most remembered kicks in the history of Rugby. Show 'em Jonno!
The Cup was truly in the balance. Australia 17 - 17 England. The match had to go one way. I remember that glorious moment when Wilkinson drew himself into the pocket and gracefully passed that bruised and battered ball through the tall and ominous uprights. It truly was a moment to remember.
All four of the above moments have had their own unique impact on my perspective of Rug Union. I believe with all sports; Football, Snooker, Cricket - the moments that you truly remember are the ones that made you feel the most moved and empowered. If there ever was a moment that did this best, it was number one on my list.
I'd like to think that some of Rugby's most powerful moments also occur before and after games. The tension and excitement I feel before an England International tends to be heightened by the singing of the National Anthem. I have always been a strong supporter of our National Anthem. However, I can't help but admit that Wales' 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' simply blows 'God Save the Queen' out of the water. This moment epitomizes that great rivalry between England and Wales on the Rugby pitch. Note the passion as the last note of 'Land of My Father's' resonates through the Millennium Stadium.
Wales V. England will always remain my favorite contest in the game of Rugby. This match is an opportunity for both nations to show their superiority on the Rugby pitch. However, when the game is over, and the stands are cleared, I am always reminded of the strength of the relationship between the Welsh and the English.
These two nations remain arch-rivals on the Rugby field, but they will forever remain good friends.
England and Wales maintain and unbreakable bond of friendship...it's just a shame for Wales that England are better at Rugby.