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And Wales Defeated England...


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The date was 15 January 1972, the venue Twickenham. The score: England 3, Wales 12. Wales defeated England. The following year, that line appeared in Max Boyces classic, Hymns and Arias, when he included it on his first album, Live at Treorchy. It was a line so sweet that he sang it twice. Now, 43 years later, Lynn Davies has borrowed it as the title of his book celebrating Welsh victories over the old enemy. Between the first encounter at Dewsbury in 1890 and the victory at Cardiff in 2013 (the advent of the 2015 World Cup), there have been 56 such successes. As the author notes in his introduction, Losing to England has much wider repercussions than appearing to illustrate lack of rugby prowess. Such an occurrence can have a significant bearing on the psyche of the Welsh nation for a considerable time ... Every victory is noted in detail, not only occurrences on the field but also examples of the psychological sparring off the field. Prominent is Phil Bennetts call to arms in 1977 that led to a 149 victory. It is one of the most stirringly patriotic speeches ever delivered. Henry Vs speech at Agincourt pales beside it. The feelings are by no means one-sided. Included is Keith Fairbrothers testimony of hate towards Wales prior to the Twickenham encounter of 1970. This message was seized upon by that wiliest of tacticians, Clive Rowlands, who pinned it up on the dressing-room wall. The result? It ended 1713 to Wales. On-pitch heroics include Hensons tackle and kick (2819), Scott Gibbss try at Wembley (3123), and Cuthberts tries (303). A few among many golden moments. The author rightly points out that Wales v England is far more than a game of rugby. Winning against them is of paramount importance to the people of Wales. Rugby, he says, is one of the few sports at which we can consider ourselves superior to them. It is worth noting that the Welsh antagonism towards England on the rugby pitch (and anywhere else should we lose) is shared by others. This is what All-Black Grant Fox had to say: Of all the teams in the world you dont want to lose to, England is top of the list. If you beat them, its because you cheat. If they beat you, theyve overcome your cheating! Make that man an honorary Welshman! Lyn Ebenezer It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council

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