The mood in Wales is different this time. There is a quieter surety about the thing. People – and in Wales this means nearly all the people – are bustling along with purpose, reflecting the emergence of a different language of being. Rather than being predicated upon that naturally occurring defiance – that celtic fire – this all-new, cooler mothertongue is born of some elite cryo-therapeutic confidence, it seems. As though the whole nation has been queueing up to march into those portable cubicles now favoured by the Brotherhood of Redness itself – the national rugby side.
Can it really be the case that in car parks from Haverfordwest to Harlech, butchers and bakers and candlestick- makers have been topping up their god-given verve by chilling to the Amazonian Max? Is Dai the Taps really freshly emerged from a minus 120 hit of re-energising bliss? Can he really stow away those spanners and tighten up with miraculous finger-power alone? And is Dafydd the Doors really shaving them down with his daily-renewable but diamond-edged bristles? Too right. For this is the era of the supermen.
Wales knows rugby and it knows something has changed. They have gone from being merely the best Northern Hemisphere side to watch into being the real powerhouses of European rugby. They have enormous talent and enormous backs. They look unstoppable. Right now, as Merv the mighty Swerve is rightly remembered, a new breed of animal is snorting in the background, ready – unbelievably ready – to step out and make their own statement. These fellahs are equally as proud and passionate as the former number 8 was. But they are utterly different in terms of their levels of conditioning – one reason amongst many that Warburton’s team will surely roll through any legitimate nerves to extinguish French hopes of spoiling the national party.
And yes, there will be a party.