Now is the time for us to hail a new generation of legends

Wales Expects 2: The fan's view By Katherine Jenkins who will be leading the singing before today's game at the Millennium Stadium
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The Independent Online

Like singing, rugby is in our blood. Our fathers play, our brothers play, our boyfriends play, and those that don't or can't play, watch. So to say that today's match in the Millennium Stadium against Ireland is important to Wales would be something of an understatement. My generation has lived with legend, and now it's time to claim our own.

Like singing, rugby is in our blood. Our fathers play, our brothers play, our boyfriends play, and those that don't or can't play, watch. So to say that today's match in the Millennium Stadium against Ireland is important to Wales would be something of an understatement. My generation has lived with legend, and now it's time to claim our own.

It's hard to overestimate how much rugby is part of our fabric. The first matches I remember watching on television were spent sitting on my dad's knee at home in Neath when I was four or five years old. I didn't know who the teams were, I didn't know the names of the players. But even then I knew that red was the only colour. And it always will be.

For me, there's an added dimension today because I'll be representing my country too, singing - alongside Charlotte Church - before kick-off. I've been the official mascot of the WRU since before the World Cup in 2003, when I was asked to sing before a friendly against England. It was something I'd dreamt about since I was a little girl and I can't think of a prouder moment in my life than when I got the invitation. The only sadness is that my dad wasn't alive to see me sing for our country. It is an incredible, exhilarating, humbling experience.

I know I'm far from alone in being gripped by what's happened in this Six Nations. When we played England, I was also singing, on that occasion along with Bryn Terfel and Aled Jones. Aled had bitten his nails to the quick by the time Gavin Henson won it for us. I felt the same. I'm sure a lot of my generation did because it's about time things came good for us.

Like most of the Welsh squad, I wasn't born the last time Wales won a Grand Slam, in 1978. But like everyone in Wales, I was brought up with the stories. Though I never saw them play in the flesh, those players - J P R Williams, Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards - are as revered by my generation as anyone. In a nation that eats, sleeps and breathes the sport, their glory days have had to sustain us for too long.

What's so special now is that we're within touching distance of feeling what it was like for ourselves. Rugby is a barometer of how we feel as a nation. Right now I'd say we feel pretty hot. The Dragon is breathing fire again. I'm honoured to feel a part of it.

Can we win? Well, we've won everything so far in this tournament. The team spirit is wonderful, the whole of the Millennium Stadium will be behind us. We've got the passion and commitment. Our time, I hope, has come.

Katherine Jenkins' new album, Second Nature, is out now via Universal Classics and Jazz

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