You can never rely on the French. All they had to do was go to Cardiff last weekend with a bit of fire in their bellies and they’d have denied Wales the Six Nations Grand Slam.
But no, writes Jeremy Clarkson for the Times (London).
They turned up instead with cheese in their bellies and mooched about for 80 minutes, seemingly not at all bothered that we’ve got to spend the next 12 months listening to the sheepsters droning on about their natural superiority and brilliance.
Or worse. Give them a Grand Slam and the next thing you know, all our holiday cottages are on fire.
There are, of course, other reasons I hoped the French would win. I’d rather live in France than Wales; I’d rather eat a snail than a daffodil; I’d certainly rather drink French fizzy wine; and I’d much rather sleep with Carole Bouquet than Charlotte Church.
However, as the match unfurled I found myself supporting the Welsh. Even though they seemed to have only three players – Jones, Jenkins and Williams – they were just so damn enthusiastic. And there was no doubt their excellent performance was lifting the spirits of the supporters. This made me feel warm and gooey because, like all civilised beings, I truly enjoy seeing a downtrodden people being given a crumb of something that makes them happy.
I was in Wales last week and it was pretty depressing. The place has more speed cameras and more roadworks per square inch than any other nation on earth. It also has more pebble-dashed housing and more rain too.
The only cheer is that children there are given free toothbrushes on the NHS, but this doesn’t seem quite enough, somehow, to make up for the shortfalls. That’s why I’m delighted to see them walk off with a nice cup.
Well done, all of you. You beat the civilised world, fair and square. And now, having got that out of the way, we need your help . . .
The problem is that far, far away, in a sinister place called Australia, there is dirty work afoot. They are trying to change the laws of rugby so that it becomes less about mud, fighting and severe spinal injuries and more like ballet. In other words, more like the delicate nancy-boy running game that they play. This must be stopped.
In football there are 17 laws – or 18 if you count the unwritten stipulation that you must be a wet fart to play it in the first place – whereas in rugby there are 22 laws. And that’s before you get to the subclauses and subdivisions that conspire to make the whole thing more complicated than the assembly instructions for a space shuttle.
I know a great many rugby fans who claim to know what’s going on out there, but that’s just the beer talking. The fact is that no one does. And yet despite this the game works.
We saw examples of the two extremes in Wales’s game against France last weekend. In a scrum towards the end of the match, the Welsh forwards simply steamrollered the Frenchies clean off the ball. It was an exquisite demonstration of power. And then, moments later, some ugly little ginger burst out of nowhere and ran the length of the pitch in an exquisite demonstration of speed.
You will find this mix in no other game on earth except, I think, American football. But it’s hard to be sure because every time anything happens they cut to an advertisement for Budweiser.
The Australians now say that handling should be allowed in a ruck, that there need not be an even number of players from both teams in the lineouts and that rolling mauls can be dragged down. No, don’t worry. I don’t know what any of it means either.
They are already playing games over there in which quick lineout balls need not be thrown straight, and all players except the scrum-half have to be five metres behind the rear foot. It’s all mumbo jumbo – and how they can understand this when they can’t even get to grips with the basics of eating indoors and call an afternoon an “arvo” is beyond me.
But what I do understand is that all of the law changes, and there are about 6,000 of them, are designed specifically to take the scrum out of the game. This is important in places such as Sydney. Get that lot into a bending-over position with a bunch of other hunks and you’d never pull them apart.
What’s more, when you have spent upwards of A$700 on a haircut and colouring, the last thing you need is to spend 80 minutes with your new highlights rammed up a Welshman’s muddy bottom.
Well now, look, Bruce. If you want to mince about on a pitch, falling over every time anyone goes near your Botox, give up with the Aussie laws nonsense and play the same wetty-footy that’s seen in the rest of the world. If on the other hand you want to play a man’s game, quit your whingeing – that’s our job – and get stuck in.
Changing the laws because you’re no good in a scrum would be like us saying that the winner of a cricket match should be the team best at saying “The rain in Spain”.
Happily, despite some support from New Zealand, the Aussies are unlikely to garner much sympathy from their other southern hemisphere colleagues, South Africa, who did rather well out of the current laws in the last World Cup.
But to make the Barbie Boys give up, we must ensure there’s a united front up here in the developed half of the world. That means Jean Claude, Iueeaneuauun, Mick, Leonardo and William Wallace coming together, united as one, and reminding our Australian friends that if it weren’t for Nigel they’d still be scorpions and snakes.