St George no match for the Dragons
March 20, 2013
Wales savour their Six Nations triumph © PA Photos
I have three Lions as pets. I grow only red roses in my garden. Winston Churchill is the godfather of two of my three children. St George kindly agreed to do the honours for the third. I drive a sweet chariot (diesel, as it's kinder on the pocket with all the miles I cover) and my karaoke "go to" is Jerusalem if they have it - The Baha Men's "Who let the Dogs out" if not.
My point: as patriotic Englishmen go, I am right up there with Georgie Porgie the dragon slayer himself - although I've always thought there's more than a whiff of the old "urban myth" about his slaying antics and I know he was Greek born, but let's not quibble.
The fact is I, like many of you reading this, am passionate about England, passionate about my country's sporting fortunes, and besotted by my English sporting heroes. So taking all this into account, you can imagine my shame, my anguish, my gut wrenching disgust on the final Saturday of the Six Nations when I discovered I was actually enjoying the work of the Welsh Masterful Destroyers (WMD) at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
My heart was bleeding but at the same time rejoicing at the shear wonder of the occasion. The roof bolted shut, the energy and will of a nation contained within, created a force that was surely impossible to resist. If someone had bothered to engineer a barometer of patriotic fervor, a fervometer, it would have blown a fuse on that Saturday night. We often talk about the 16th man - on that night he wasn't a man - he was a 65 thousand headed giant. (My parents who were there with my Welsh in-laws estimated the English travelling army numbered about 10,000)
It reminded me of the greatest sporting occasion I have had the good fortune to be at - the first test of the Lions Tour Down Under in 2001. As those who are geographically savvy will know, Australia is quite a trek from these soggy shores, but in that stadium, on that night of pure wonder in Brsibane, the 16th man wasn't a tinny swilling Bruce from Burrumbuttock or Watanobbi (FYI - not made-up names) but rather a tinny swilling Hamish O'Farquhar-Jones from the British Isles.
The hairs on the backs of necks for all who witnessed it, either on the box or at The Gabba, got a full on work out that night. The Red Sea of Brisbane created a tidal wave of belief that went straight into the pulsing veins of the British & Irish Lions and kicked the Wallabies right in the Evonne Goolagongs. (For those too young to be familiar with Evonne's work she was a mighty fine Aussie tennis player who won 14 Grand Slam titles in the 1970s and 80s - and yes I did wince when I wrote the G and S words.)
You may all have been at sporting events when the emotional tsunami caused by the passion of the fans has created wings beneath a team or forced the opposition to raise the white flag. This indefinable power has similarities to Dr Stuart Hameroff's scientific theories on Near Death Experiences. (FYI - not a made up name, person or theory) Dr Hameroff has the best job title of anybody in the known Universe. He is the Professor Emeritus at the Department of Anesthesiology and Psychology and the Director of Consciousness at the University of Arizona. He maintains the essence of our souls is held in structures called microtubules that are stored in our brain cells. (Bare with me as I know you're thinking I've gone bonkers - I can sense it in your tubules.)
His theory, and who on earth am I to argue with a man who must have an A4 sized Business Card, is that when people shuffle off this mortal coil "quantum substances, which form the soul, leave the nervous system and enter the Universe at large."
I reckon the Welsh fans have secretly developed a way of harnessing their microtubules to such an extent that they can fire them at any given player at any given time. If you took a urine sample from Alex Cuthbert on Saturday night for instance, I would bet my shed they would have found sizeable traces of foreign microtubules. Old Hameroff bangs on about near death, what he has yet to realise is his microtubules can also breath life into hitherto underperforming Welsh Rugby Players.
I will publish my thesis in next month's issue of the Lancet.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Mark Durden-Smith is the lead presenter for live Aviva Premiership Rugby on ESPN