From the heart of the scrum, an aria

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The Independent Online
Yesterday I brought you an extract from a new opera about Welsh rugby entitled 'Tristan und Gareth'. It told the story of two boys, Tristan and Gareth, who both taste success early on in the Welsh Schoolboys XV. However, they react to success in very different ways - Tristan determines to make rugby his career, while Gareth thinks he will just have a good time in the bar after the match, making friends with everyone. Tristan goes north and becomes a star in Rugby League, while Gareth goes to the bad and becomes a Welsh selector ... Encouraged, I feel disposed to bring you another extract from this seminal work.

ACT TWO. Scene one takes us to a meeting of the Welsh Rugby selectors, who have gathered in the upstairs room of a big pub, the Pont Talbot De Luxe Business and Conference Arms.

The meeting is called to order by a man called Barry Davies, who is the chairman.

Barry: All right, lads, have we all got a pint? OK, then, down to business. There's only one item on the agenda.

Ceri: Only one?

Barry: Yes. How to beat England at Twickenham.

Gary: Blimey, I thought we had discussed this before?

Barry: We discuss this every time. It is business held over. It is a recurring item. It is perennial agenda. It is a semi-permanent sore in the Welsh psyche. It is a chronic cross we all have to bear ...

Ceri: Come off it, Barry! No need for the old Welsh gift of the gab here! The English may be impressed by it, but it cuts no ice in the valleys.

Barry: All right, fair enough. But any ideas on how to beat England? Or anyone, come to that? Just to refresh your memory, here are some methods we have tried in the past. We tried playing Paul Thorburn and Rupert Moon ...

Gary: What was the point of that?

Barry: Well, the idea was that if we played people with such obviously English names as Thorburn and Moon, the English would challenge us to prove that they had any Welsh blood, and be totally embarrassed by finding that they were indeed Welsh.

Gary: Did it work?

Barry: No. In fact, the English adopted the idea themselves and started picking players with Welsh names, like Dewi Morris.

Gary: And Irish names, like Kieran Bracken.

Barry: Right. So, anyone got any ideas for saving Wales?

Ceri: Only the same one as usual.

(He sings.)

Cometh the hour, Cometh the man,

If anyone can save us,

Jonathan can!

Jonathan Davies,

Come back, please!

We beg of you

On bended knees!

(All selectors join in the chorus.)

O come back to help us,

Jonathan Davies!

Don't walk - we'll hire

A limo from Avis!

If it's money you want

Just name a sum,

All in used fivers,

But come back, come.

For God's sake come back,

Jonathan Davies

- You're the only one

Who can possibly save us!!

(They stop singing and all listen. There is no answer.)

Barry: Well, it was worth trying.

Gareth: If I may make a suggestion...

Barry: Gareth! What a surprise! You've never spoken before. We thought you were just here for the beer money.

Gareth: Well, yes, I am, basically, but I just wondered if you had thought of picking Tristan Jones ...

Barry: The star of Rugby League? Is he Welsh?

Gareth: Oh, yes - he's an old mate of mine. I just thought it might be nice if he was drafted into the side, played a blinder, shimmied through for two or three tries and then scored the winning points at Twickenham with a last-minute drop goal.

Barry: What a great idea. Why didn't we think of it before?

Alun: We've had lots of great ideas before, Barry. It's just that none of them has ever worked.

Barry: Well, it's our last chance. Don't forget that if we come bottom again, we could be replaced in the home championships by Italy.

(They all sink into total gloom. The ghost of JPR Williams passes by outside the window, openly weeping.)

And so on, and so on. Incidentally, this would be a VERY cheap opera to put on, so if Jeremy Isaacs wants to get in touch, he knows where to find me.