Outside Inside Centre
We were all blindsided by this.
Hands on head and stilled, mid-stride,
we all stared at the screen.
Back then, before a shrill whistle
put a sudden stop to our ritual gathering
in tiers, where we’d throng in unified purpose
and warm our hands on pure spectacle.
Where a single match of red flame
could ignite an entire nation,
our stadium stands empty,
Where we would stir the passions
of hymns over a blazing heat,
there sits a heavy lid
on our cauldron of rebirth.
So is it possible, a reimagining now,
after a static summer spent rooted
between halfback and fullback?
To those who’d say
we’re nothing but armchair fans after all,
we’ve skin in this game.
No, it’s not ours the split lip,
strapped knee and bruised rib,
but at home, all the same,
our sinews strain,
tight as bowstrings, harp strings,
bracing as in a fever dream
against an impact long desired.
The rules say: avoid touch.
But we yearn for the scrum’s
love-spoon knotwork cwtsh.
So let’s raise our roofs,
fill our hearts again with hope,
lift our hands and sing.
As we say in our language,
hawdd cynnau tân ar hen aelwyd –
new fires burn best in old grates,
and ours was always fuelled
by the ancient belief
that no opposition’s insurmountable.
and let’s warm our hands on a passion
hot as a thousand hearths,
because in every home
there’s room for us all in this line-up,
outside, inside, centre.
We’re with you, bois.
To support the Welsh national rugby team in the Autumn Nations Cup, I was commissioned to write two poems by Principality Building Society. Shortened versions of both poems – one in Welsh and another in English – were broadcast on television and radio, voiced by Cerys Matthews and produced by Orchard. With a global pandemic keeping everyone in their homes and out of the stadium in Cardiff, PBS wanted to show the players that we were still behind them, no matter what. And that we also needed them, of course. In a world where simply touching had become something to fear, what better than watching two teams doing their very best to tackle, press and push each other for a while?