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Newcomer to rugby? Here are 7 things you need to know

When it comes to a game like Wales vs. England, the passion isn’t just about what’s on the pitch.

The game of rugby is well loved in Wales and the UK. It’s a staple of Welsh culture, and it can be daunting if you’ve never experienced a game yourself. Keep these seven things in mind as you venture out for your first game this season.

Red is the colour of Wales rugby.

1. It Gets Political

Though, as far as how political the rivalry really is, depends on who you talk to. For some, it’s a cultural rivalry seeped in a history of political tensions, for others, it’s playful.

“I think there’s a deep rivalry which comes from England being the dominant power for centuries,” Says Dom Bryan, who is from England but rooted for Wales this past weekend. “I think national and sporting rivalry is probably quite divorced from real politics… the way politics works in the country at the moment, the more tangible things. I don’t know really, I just think it’s more about national pride.”

2. It’s About the People

Watching alone isn’t the same as being surrounded by fans and ending up adopted by a family from North Wales while standing in a Whetherspoons pub. It goes without saying, doesn’t it?

The people who care about the game, with all their passion and enthusiasm, are probably more interesting than the game itself, particularly if you’re a people-watcher. The face paint, the street drinking, the music pouring out of the streets are a spectacle but underneath that spectacle is genuine excitement and real people. It doesn’t hurt when the home team is winning — people open up their hearts when the going is good on the pitch.


3. It’s a lot like American Football… just different

To break it down to its most basic, rugby is a game between two teams and the aim is to score the most points over two forty-minute halves. Each team has fifteen players on the pitch trying to get the ball across their team’s try line, a feat worth five points. The ball can only be passed backwards, not forwards, else your team is given a penalty. A penalty kick then goes to the other team, and if successful, it’s worth three points. Once a try is scored, the scoring team is allotted a free kick, called a conversion, worth two points.

In American football, you have two teams on a field (pitch) trying to score a touchdown (try) thereafter kicking a field goal (conversion). While both sports involves tackling and tend to result in concussions, they are more brothers than they are twins. American football players wear padding and helmets. Rugby players don’t.


4. Get to the Pub Early

Never is Cardiff City Centre more packed than on a rugby game day. Queues are lined up outside of pubs and it’s standing room only in most places in the city centre — especially if you’re close to the stadium. Get there at least half an hour to an hour early to make sure you have a spot, depending on the popularity of the game. Better yet, make a reservation. On the day of Wales vs England, nearly all hotels were booked solid, and most restaurants and bars, too.


5. Expect Organized Chaos

Cardiff police monitor the crowd in the City Centre

The police are out monitoring the crowds. Fans have been drinking since noon. People are dressed up and dressed fancy (meaning: in silly costumes) with funny hats, painted faces, and flags around their shoulders. It can be an introvert’s nightmare, and it certainly isn’t the best time to get errands done.


6. Don’t Celebrate too Early

In the instance of Wales vs England this past week, the game was decided in the last five minutes, and it was an upset. If you want to save yourself a headache, or an augmented misery, perhaps save the celebratory drinks for after. This goes for anyone who isn’t much of a drinker, but even those who can stomach quite a bit. In either case, it’s a matter of preventing a situation in which you’re not only blind drunk but despairing to boot.

7. Whatever happens, There’s Always a Chip Shop

There really is nothing like the comfort of chips and gravy, or fish and chips, after a big match. The chip shops make for excellent post-match commiseration or celebration, and folks from all walks of life can be found in the queue. If you’re looking for a bit of compassion after a big game, find the right chip shop and you’re set.

Comfort food if your team wins or loses.

Already been to a rugby match? What are your seven things you’d recommend? Tweet us @Intercardiff #myrugbyseven

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