Yesterday's match was hard-fought. I had forgotten quite how much aggression rugby can involve! It's a miracle the game can still be played in these litigious, health-and-safety minded days. How long before the busybodies demand an end to the glorious legal doctrine of volenti non fit injuria, which makes such sports possible? After all if the consent of the smoker does not now absolve the tobacco company, why should the consent of the injured rugby player absolve the man who tackled him? Surely Mummy State needs to save him from himself?
The visiting side did not cover itself in sportsmanlike glory. The Liberty Stadium (I like that name) echoed to bitter chants by the Ospreys fans of "Cheats, cheats, cheats!" as Leicester deliberately slowed the game down. Sometimes it seemed Leicester had more water boys on the pitch than players.The Ospreys needed a 7 point winning margin to be certain of going through to the next round. Leicester just needed to hold them to less - and did. So both sides won, but sportsmanship lost. No tries were scored. To tell the truth, neither side came very close. The defensive play was brutal and effective. Leicester were more physical, the Ospreys were more skilful - but also more prone to errors. I gathered from the graphic observations of their more critical fans, that this was typical.
I was particularly delighted by the burly fan nearby (my friend says he's always there) who berated the French referee (who dealt weakly with Leicester's sharp practice) in strongly Welsh-accented French. At every sporting event there is always at least one bull-voiced, self-confident fan, who knows better than the officials, the team manager and each player how their jobs should be done. This chap - bellowing "Ouvrez les yeux, ref!!" - was a particularly classy specimen, I thought.
I read JMB's comment on yesterday's post from my iPhone during the interval, so I had the chance to wave at Liz of Finding Life Hard? as directed, had I only known where she was sitting or indeed what she looked like. Be that as it may, I had a great time, met my friend's brother for the first time and spent a pleasant evening at a Chinese restaurant with my friend and his wife.
This morning Vittoria and I had a clear sunny journey back up to the top of Wales. It was one of those rare runs where you delight to encounter slower traffic for the pleasure of overtaking it. Not that there was much, on a quiet Sunday morning in sleepy mid-Wales.The temperatures are above freezing today so it was safe to put Vittoria into "sport" mode and practise the cornering techniques I was taught on the driving course I took last September. I tootled, engine barely ticking over, through village after village but then scooted briskly along the roads between. It was the perfect route for such a car, with lots of bends, including hairpins. With the glorious Welsh landscape rising and falling before us, Vittoria's V8 sang sweetly and her exhaust pipes harmonised at the passersby. I watched one chap, slackjawed and open mouthed, stop in his tracks to watch us, his head cocked and turning as he drank in the noise and the glamour of a Maserati in flight. I think we woke up the small boy in him. I certainly hope so. Vittoria often seems to give onlookers as much pleasure as she does me.
Tonight, I dine out with Mrs P. and tomorrow it's back to Moscow before heading on to Istanbul. Friendship, sport, fun, family and Labour's corruption exposed (making them yet more politicians bitten by their formerly-affectionate poodles this week). What more could a man ask for?