Sunday, 16 March 2008

Palm Sunday and rugby

alm Sunday and rugby – what’s the connection?

Well… crowds!

This morning in church we were reminded of the crowds that would have been making their way up to Jerusalem at the same time as Jesus. Since donkeys were a common enough form of transport, what made Jesus stand out? How could anyone even notice him in the crush of tourist, worshippers, flag sellers and ticket touts?

My mind (working in it’s usual bizarre way) jumped to a memorable experience from my formative years. In 1975, as a 13 year-old, I went to see Scotland playing Wales with a group from my school. Our bus was parked next to a Welsh rugby club’s vehicle – and these big boyos adopted us as a group and walked towards the ground with us.

As we got closer it became clear that there was a bit of a problem. It turned out that a world record crowd had turned up to see this match – officially 104,000 people made it inside the ground. In those days you entered Murrayfield through a big tunnel – and there was a real danger that skinny kids like me would get completely crushed.

Our new found Welsh mates made sure that we were OK. I had one on each side of me as we entered the tunnel, they each grabbed me by the elbow and lifted me. My feet didn’t touch the ground until they could deposit me safely at the schoolboy seats.

Since then I’ve always had a soft spot for the Welsh. Aye, their singing is good, they’ve produced some fantastic rugby players, and they share our Celtic antipathy for the English, but mainly my fondness is due to the memory of 1975.

So congratulations to them on achieving the Grand Slam –and it gives me an excuse to post more photos of daffodils!

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