Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A nearly lost gem/holidays in hell

I recently managed to uncover, after a few weeks of searching, a nearly lost gem of recent rugby history - a report on the match programme from the Neath v Aberavon September 2003 game. The rivalry between these two sides is nearly an hundred years old and VERY bitter. Back in the sixties they were cajoled by the WRU into putting out a combined side against a touring NZ side. Fighting broke out in the tunnel before the game - between Neath and Aberavon members playing on the same side....

Anyway, Neath's ascendance through the leagues kept the two sides apart for a good few years in the 80s and 90s, until 2003, when they finally played again. As ever, both coaches were invited to put a few words in the programme, and usually they write a few magnanimous words about the warm welcome, looking forward to a good game etc.
Not this time.
Oh no. The Aberavon coach decided to vent his real feelings about the Welsh All-Blacks (from a cached Ananova Sport report):

Neath report 'insulting' Aberavon to WRU

Neath have reported Aberavon's rugby director Chris O'Callaghan to the Welsh Rugby Union after claiming his comments about Neath were insulting and could have incited violence.
The old rivals met in a Welsh Premiership game on Saturday and in O'Callaghan's programme notes he said: ''When I die I want to be buried face down on a mountain, overlooking Neath with my arse poking out.''
He said: ''I blame Neath for ignoring us, for voting against us, for the rain, for the wind, for my cat crapping on the carpet and for leaving 30 uneaten meals in the club kitchen.
''My blame has no rationale and it manifests itself as pure hatred. It's right to hate Neath, it's a part of what we in Aberavon are all about. I hate them so much that I've changed the colour of our kit to get rid of all the black.
''I was born in Neath but I won't admit it, lived in Neath but want to forget it and when I die I want to be buried face down on a mountain, overlooking Neath with my arse poking out.
''Let the hatred wash over us, let's wallow in it for one afternoon - the Blacks are back and I for one have missed them badly.''
But Neath's chairman and chief executive Geraint Hawkes is not amused and in a letter to the WRU chief executive David Moffett, he said: ''During the week leading up to the game, Mr O'Callaghan continually tried to revive perceived "hatreds" between the two clubs - presumably in a vain attempt to motivate his players.
''We feel it would be appropriate if the WRU were to call Mr O'Callaghan to task for his unprofessional and disrespectful remarks.
''In addition to the offence caused by the insulting nature of the comments towards our club, we also view the remarks as both inciting and condoning violence, thus bringing the game into disrepute.
''We are also concerned that such comments might have provoked a violent response on the pitch or on the terraces, but fortunately discipline was maintained and the final scoreline of 43-18 in our favour was probably the best answer we could give.''

Magic. THAT'S rugby history. If anyone out there has a copy of this programme or even a .pdf thereof, I'd love to see it.

My other topic of the day is holidays in hell. It seems that, for some people, a week in Ibiza or a fortnight in Florida is just not enough. Some people want to be shot at, eaten alive or risk kidnapping by political insurgents. Some want to visit the Axis of Evil, some want to go to Antarctica, Palestine, Chechnya, Colombia, etc. You can learn where (not) to go and how to survive it here. If you are happy to blow the money and time on it fair enough, but I for one prefer my time off to be peaceful.

The question is, where is left to go? Armenia? Bhutan? Easter Island? Pico Iyer has written several excellent books about places other people wouldn't think to go - Iceland, Patagonia, etc. Where have you been that's a little off the beaten path?


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