Cyfrol sy'n bwrw golwg ar rygbi Cymru, gan fardd preswyl Undeb Rygbi Cymru. Edrychir ar ymgyrch y tîm yn ystod Cwpan Rygbi'r Byd yn 2011, ac ar eu llwyddiant ym mhencampwriaeth y Chwe Gwlad, 2012, pan enillwyd y Gamp Lawn am y trydydd tro mewn wyth mlynedd, gan lwyddo hefyd i danio brwdfrydedd a dychymyg y Cymry.
At the 2011 Rugby World Cup a young Welsh side captained by the 22-year-old Sam Warburton, captured the imagination of the rugby-watching world. This title offers the inside story of a 6 Nations campaign that galvanised a nation and ended in Grand Slam success for the third time in 8 years. Owen Sheers takes a personal journey into a sport that defines a nation.
This brilliant work not only succeeds in illuminating the heart of Welsh rugby, but also the heart of Wales itself. By combining poetic insight with journalistic observation, Sheers creates a gripping narrative of the Welsh rugby year, from the teamís heart-breaking defeat to France in the World Cup through to winning the Grand Slam against the same opposition in 2012.
The author spent a year as the Welsh Rugby Unionís artist-in-residence, and his closeness to the organisation allowed human dramas to emerge around and between the calendar of international games. From the groundsmen designing the patterns of the grass on the pitch, to the stadium security guards on night watch and to the officials and the players themselves, we see multiple ways in which Welsh people engage with the national game and, through rugby, with Wales itself.
Exploring the role rugby plays in Welsh culture is particularly intimidating given the sportís centrality to Welsh identity, and also to the diverse and often contested ways in which Welsh nationhood has been understood. Sheers relishes rather than avoids the contradictions inherent in the emotions provoked by Welsh international rugby. Here he describes walking the length of the Millennium Stadium pitch, slightly drunk, in the darkness of New Yearís Eve:
ĎI feel as if I havenít just walked across the national ground, but across the national ground; as if Iíve traversed Wales itself.
ĎIn reality Iíve just walked across some of the 7,412 removable pallets that make up this pitch, each packed with soil, sand and Lytag, a lightweight aggregate made from pulverised fuel ash. Each pallet is topped with 40mm of turf seeded with a mix of meadow and rye grass from Scunthorpe, not Wales.í
Through the authorís observations of individualsí involvement with the national game, we come to appreciate the immense physical efforts that have raised Welsh rugby to its current European pre-eminence, and also the transformative alchemy attached to the national game that, on match days, turns the stadium of pallets into something between an altar, a palace, and a theatre. Sheers describes George North packing his kitbag for the Six Nations decider against France, then notes that:
ĎWales, like all nations, is an idea. A concoction of history, landscape, temperament and language. This afternoon George and the twenty-one young men also boarding that dragon-painted coach, will become that idea. For eighty minutes, under the eyes of millions, they will become their country.í
The countryís pursuit of the Grand Slam that day is described in minute detail, masterfully drawing together the threads of the authorís year at the heart of Welsh rugby. This is a work that both rugby fans and sports agnostics will enjoy, and represents a personal journey that both entertains and encourages a deeper appreciation of all aspects of the national game.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, 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 www.gwales.com, trwy ganiat‚d Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.