Ruck and Maul: Saints go marching on as his Masters voice fails to lift Ulsterman

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The Independent Online

Rugby supporters have nothing like the reputation of football's, though some may see Saracens as pushing the boundaries of antagonism by staging a "Gathering" before away matches – for example, yesterday, on what the London club called "private land adjacent to the Exeter Chiefs official car park" before a "march on the ground... to give the team a welcome to remember".

But they rattled buckets for the Devon Air Ambulance while they were at it, so that was OK, right? Otherwise there is not much to stand out among the matchday chants of "Tigers, Tigers" at Welford Road or "Allez, allez, allez, Wasps, Wasps, Wasps" at Adams Park or a chorus of "The Mighty Quinn" at the Stoop.

The Irish are better known for their banter and songs: "Fields of Athenry", "Come On You Boys in Blue" and "Stand Up for the Ulstermen" for Munster, Leinster and Ulster respectively. The latter's support raised a smile last Sunday, singing "We're going to win the Masters" as their team slid to defeat by Northampton.

Sadly Rory McIlroy proceeded to let them down – although the handful of South Africans in Ulster's team must have enjoyed Charl Schwartzel's march to the Green Jacket.

Report leaves Edwards wild

Rugby's ribald songs of old do, however, survive in bars and on bus trips and it was one of them that led to Shaun Edwards receiving a suspension and fine from the Welsh Rugby Union last month.

Edwards admits that he got in a row with Wales's sports scientist Fergus Connolly after singing a version of "Wild Rover" on the team coach which substituted the words "wife beater". But Edwards was outraged by a subsequent national newspaper report that said he had glorified wife-beating.

The song he sang, Edwards told Ruck and Maul, was learnt in his Wigan rugby league days and "totally denounces" wife-beating, mocking as it does a penniless waster who "spends all his money on whiskey and beer" and begs for free booze.

"It's the polar opposite to glorifying it," said Edwards, although much as he would like the newspaper to print a retraction, he does not anticipate it happening.

Baa-baas to leave pastures old

The Barbarians will play their final Mobbs Memorial Match at Bedford on Tuesday evening.

It is considered the invitational club's longest continuous fixture, having been played since 1921 (with breaks only for snow in 1922 and for the Second World War) in honour of Lt Col Edgar Mobbs DSO, the East Midlands, Northampton, Olney, Barbarians and Bedford Modern School wing who captained England against France in 1910 and was killed leading an assault by his "Battalion of Sportsmen and Soldiers" of the Northamptonshire Regiment on a German machine gun post at Ypres in July 1917.

Sadly, the days are long gone when top internationals from Northampton and Bedford – Don White, Budge Rogers and the like – would line up under the East Midlands banner to meet strong Baa-baas sides. Bedford took the fixture over in 2008 but from next year it will be played between the East Midlands and the Army – appropriately enough – and will continue to raise funds for youth rugby.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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