Sport is a large part of living in Britain, and everyone is expected to stand up and support their country when the time comes. Football belongs to the English, rugby to the Welsh, and Scotland has such unclassifiable sports as tossing the caber, which involves hurling a tree trunk as far as humanly possible. The Irish sports life mostly consists of drinking competitions and vomiting in new and exciting ways, though I probably only say that because I’m English.
The sport of the moment is rugby. It’s the Six Nations competition whereby the four British countries plus Italy and France take each other on in rugby. Each country plays the others and the most victories overall indicates the winner of the competition.
Other countries are fairly typical with their patriotism â€“ this is my country and all other countries are unimportant to me â€“ but with Britain it’s a little more complicated. Each country supports themselves, the Welsh will watch England matches to boo the English, the English will often do the same with the Welsh, everyone supports Italy because they’re the underdogs, and no one likes the French, possibly not even French people.
Rioting is common during and after rugby matches, because if we lose a match we believe that gives us the right to find and punch anyone who supported the opposite side, regardless of their nationality.
I have the problem of being an English girl who lives in Wales. I don’t go to the pub to watch the match like most people do because it can’t really work out for me. If England lose I get mocked, and then sad and drunk, but if we win, I have to run away very fast or affect an angry Welsh accent. I say this knowing full well the attitudes of the Welsh as I was once punched in the face at a cash machine just for being English. Okay, not just for being English; I may have some years ago got a tattoo while drunk that bears a Welsh dragon holding an English flag to mock the Welsh with the insult they hate more than any other which is â€œWales is a part of England.â€ Seriously, go find a Welshman and tell them that. Then duck.
Sport in America seems so well managed by comparison â€“ people sitting quietly in stadiums watching baseball or American Football, maybe a bit of a punch-up at the end â€“ but every single rugby match is its own self-contained Superbowl to the Welsh, as is every football match if you’re English. So when the Six Nations rolls around every year things tend to get a little aggressive.
No one over here really understands American Football. In countless American teen films I’ve subjected myself to everyone always seems to be prostrating themselves religiously before the quarterback of their high school team, but at the end of the day, American Football is just a very effeminate version of rugby. If you’ve never seen a rugby match, imagine professional ice hockey with all the violence and knocking out of teeth. Now imagine that without any kind of helmet or padding. Now imagine that the players aren’t knocking a puck around but physically beating the hell out of each other to get a ball. The secondary object of the game after scoring points is to cause as much damage as possible to your opponent’s face and in any match, not just the professional ones, if you’re not bleeding by the end of the game you’re considered a bit of a girl.
This level of patriotism only seems to exist around sports events and other countries don’t seem to understand that. In America you have the Pledge of Allegiance and American flags hanging from every corner of the streets, but in England the flags go up during the first match of the football World Cup and come down the second England are out of the competition.
We hate our prime minister (I’m not even sure who it is now, but believe me, I hate him) and very few of us are royalists, although I do think the Queen is adorable. When the national anthem plays at sports events, we’ll all stand up, belt it out, maybe cry a little, but if heard at any other time it’s tolerated to a bare minimum. The only thing that I or anyone else in Britain would probably defend to the death is the idea that a cup of tea is the solution to all of life’s problems. It is.
Danica Green is a English girl living in Wales who will soon graduate from university into the life of a struggling writer.
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