The red army

Hanna Merrigan

Who was the first team you thought about when reading this month’s blog title? The Welsh rugby team or football team? Traditionally, rugby is Wales’ national sport, but a football fan myself, I must admit that seeing Bale, Ramsey and the rest on the field gives me more excitement than *does a quick Google search to see who plays rugby for Wales right now* say Halfpenny. Before you say anything, I was born in the Gwendraeth Valley, Ray Gravell, Delme Thomas and Carwyn James’ region, so rugby was an integral part of my childhood; but the Scarlets were the red shirts that I was used to – and it must have killed Dad taking my sister and I to watch them, as a lad from Swansea 'because no-one in school supports the Ospreys, Dad!'

I moved to Cardiff a year and a half ago (even though I still tell people I’ve only recently moved to the city), and one of the most exciting things about the big city is the numerous events that happen here. Once again this month, Cardiff will welcome the Six Nations teams to the Millennium Stadium (I'm sorry,  the Principality Stadium), and although it just feels like yesterday that we were watching the Autumn internationals, I can’t deny that the excitement in town on a match-day is an experience – and a different experience to football too. It’s been a busy month for the Welsh teams over the past month. With the announcement of Giggs as the new manager of the Welsh football team, announcing that the boys will play the Republic of Ireland and Denmark in the Nations League, as well as the Scarlets' victories against Bath and Toulon to claim their spot in the Champions Cup’s last eight. Even though I support the Swans as my first team, the Scarlets' successes at least relieve the pain slightly from the absolute mess in Swansea right now. Anyway, I didn’t write this blog to talk about Swansea, and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to welcoming Scotland, Italy and France to the capital over the coming weeks (not so much the queue to the bar in the pub though!)

Welsh games, be them rugby or football, ignite a sense of nationalism amongst us. However, I strongly feel that the Welsh Rugby Union has a lot to learn from the Football Association of Wales. Thinking back to that unforgettable summer in France during Euro 2016, the Gorau Chwarae Cyd Chwarae and #GydanGilyddYnGryfach (Together Stronger) slogans are still vivid in everyone’s minds (oh what I’d do to go back!), and looking at the China Cup in March, there is no doubt that the FA will once again raise the Welsh language profile amongst supporters. The Welsh national team rugby attracts a very diverse group of people, and the daffodil hats and the 'Wauuuyls' cries will be seen and heard down St Mary Street (and so will the Strongbow cans the next morning!) Singing Sosban Fach and Yma o Hyd amongst the enthusiastic Scarlets fans is an entirely different experience, but nevertheless once again this month we will all be getting behind the red army on the field in Cardiff, as long as we beat the English! On that note, the very best of luck to the Wales squad for the forthcoming games, I'm looking forward to seeing the sea of ​​red once again on February 3.

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