Edwards… Edwards to Barry John… Edwards the Baabaa, diving over… Edwards again, in his own right (Shaun, I mean!) at the vortex of another monster hit. TOUCH PAUSE CONTRACT -ENGAGE; not with Twickers, as feared and imagined but with and by Wales-in-my-arms. A kind of poetic justice. In the now buffering pantheon of Welsh rugby Edwards will remain a name to conjure memories and expectations – dreams even. Only the current version is, as half the world knows, a bullish English Skinhead with attitude plus.
Certainly The Province (yuk) is dreaming again. Now that the bristlingly brilliant defensive guru has shaken on the deal to keep him in Wales – or at least primarily working here until after the 2015 World Cup – the excitement rumbles on. After a World Cup hugely enriched by Welsh verve and spirit, this medium-sized signature richly supercedes the limitations of mere contract; it is, alleluyah, a sign.
A sign of the following
- that Edwards has understandably been Touched by the feeling that there’s something exciting (and honest and true?) about how Wales are developing
- that he understands and feels (surely) the coaching triumvirate of Gatland Edwards Howley are casting something of a spell
- that a competitive or even gallivanting Welsh side is massively good for the world game
- that clearly the current crop of players – Warburton/Faletau/Roberts/North/Halfpenny perhaps most obviously – are young men of some considerable talent
- that maybe he fears England may remain in a constipated Crouch?
- that of the combination of factors – money/challenge/enjoyment/hwyl? – the most significant point straightforwardly back to Cardiff.
Many of us view this as a near-mushy triumph for Love over Money. (We know it’s not that simple but please allow our indulgence; it’s kindof refreshing.) For here the obvious antagonism between Wales and England has been simply slam-dunked by (it is felt) a kind of big-hearted loyalty to real rugby. Twickers with its pen-pushers, snobs, embarrassment of riches but disgracefully poor and cynical expression of the game has been snubbed righteously by the boy Edwards; who sounds Welsh. Who understands – as did the world – that the sport’s richness derives chiefly from doing brave, comradely stuff quickly and with flair. That’s how it seems from Tredegar/Tywyn/Ty Ddewi.
Welsh rugby has manifestly taken big strides forward of late. If, as now seems likely, the coaching set-up – which we can only imagine is enjoyed, largely, by the players – now looks forward to a stable period of further development, then lookout boys. But there are no guarantees. I even see England as a major threat going forward – if they ever do. For now though, the Brotherhood of Reds is pumping claret; proudly.