On Friday 10th February, the day before Wales entertain England in Cardiff, English rugby legend David Duckham will be the guest speaker at a special lunch in Cae Court, Bridgend.
Cae Court overlooks the River Ogmore and is regarded as one of the best restaurants in South Wales. Their head chef has a background in fine dining, but has developed an extraordinary talent for fusing flavours from around the world. Working with local suppliers, he sources the finest ingredients and grows many of his own herbs.
There is a unique atmosphere in Cardiff when England travel across the bridge to play Wales at rugby. There is a buzz and excitement among the throngs of red-shirt wearing supporters as they sip their pints of Brains SA. You can almost hear the thoughts of fans wishing and praying for a Wales victory. There is no other atmosphere like it.
It is also fair to say that the game probably means more to the Welsh public than the English. For England, it is just another tough test match, although the cauldron of the Arms Park or Millennium Stadium has terrified the men in white into submission previously.
England 25 Wales 28, World Cup 2015, Twickenham, 26th September 2015
This was England’s home World Cup and they found themselves in the group of death with Wales and Australia. Wales had failed to beat Australia (yet again) and so their only chance of progressing was to beat England on home soil.
After falling behind and losing several key players to injury, late on in the game replacement scrum-half turned wing Lloyd Williams, broke down the left hand touchline and put in a kick behind the English defence. Whilst sprinting at pace, Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies picked up the ball and touched down under the posts. England never recovered and went on to lose. The defeat also resulted in Stuart Lancaster losing his job as England coach.
Wales 30 England 3, Six Nations 2013, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, 16th March 2013
The English were on a role and the Grand Slam and Six Nations title seemed within their grasps when they travelled down to Cardiff for the final game of the 2013 championship. Wales, being coached by Rob Howley whilst Warren Gatland took a British and Irish Lions sabbatical, had lost the opening game against Ireland. They followed up with wins against France in Paris, Italy in Rome, and Scotland in Edinburgh. If they were to win the championship, they were going to do it the hard way.
For whatever reason, England just did not turn up. The Wales back row of Warburton, Faletau and Tipuric were immense and dominated the collision area. By the 66th minute England had conceded 2 Cuthbert tries and were 27-3 down. They never recovered. Wales left the Millennium Stadium clutching the trophy snatched out of English hands.
Wales 11 England 9, Six Nations 2005, Twickenham, 5th February 2005
Wales faced England in the opening match of the 2005 Six Nations on the back of 7 consecutive defeats against the men in white. However, 2005 was the year of the dragon. The year when Wales would secure a first Grand Slam since 1976.
Under the watchful eye of referee Steve Walsh and with an exceptionally long penalty kick by Gavin Henson, Wales secured victory. The only try of the game was scored by legend Shane Williams and proved to the springboard towards a famous Grand Slam.
Pre Match Hospitality Prior to Wales playing England on Saturday 11th February 2017
Six Nations Rivalry Between the Dragon and The Rose
Firstly, I have to mention that I am writing this as a passionate Welshman. Not that this will change the facts and statistics. They are irrefutable. However, for any Welshmen there is something special when we beat England.
The Six Nations has seen the white shirts of England dominate in recent years. There have been victories in 2015, 15 and 16. Yes, Wales did put a spoke in the wheel of the England Rugby World Cup in 2015, but that has been the only joy for since the infamous 30-3 annihilation in Cardiff in 2013.
Now there’s the first ray of hope for the Welsh. The coach at the time was Rob Howley. In charge as Warren Gatland took a British and Irish Lions sabbatical. The year that Wales last won the Six Nations. Will history repeat itself?
The first international rugby game between Wales and England was on the 19th February 1881 in London. England emerged victorious and it was not until 1890 in Yorkshire did Wales carve out their first historic win 1-0.
Over the decades, both Wales and England have dominated for short periods of time. Between March 2000 and March 2004, England won 7 consecutive games and inflicted some of their biggest winning scores and margins.
In the Golden Age of Welsh rugby, Wales won 5 consecutive tests between February 1975 and March 1979.
Wales and England have played 129 times, with 60 victories to England against 57 to Wales with 1673 points to 1518. There have been 12 draws, the last of which was in the 1983 Five Nations Championship in Cardiff (13-13) when England ended up with the Wooden Spoon after starting the tournament as favourites.
However, in the Six Nations, England have been dominate, carving out 11 victories to Wales 6.
Six Nations Pre-Match Rugby Hospitality with David Duckham
He is called the honorary Welshman. In the 70s, people said that he was the only Englishman that could have broken into the Wales team featuring rugby greats including Gareth Edwards and John Dawes. And on Saturday 11th February, hours before Wales take on England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, David Duckham will be talking rugby.
The Pre-Match event is the ideal warm up prior to the widely anticipated Wales vs England Six Nations test. After a two-course meal, David Duckham will be talking about his rugby career with England, the British and Irish Lions and the Barbarians.
David Duckham is widely regarded as one of the best backs ever to play rugby for England. Whilst playing on the wing or in the centre, the back with the flowing blonde locks would terrorise the opposition.
Duckham played for Coventry for the whole of his career. His England debut came in 1969, playing at centre. Duckham went on to win 36 caps for England before he retired in 1976. As part of the All Black series winning British and Irish Lions of 1971, he scored 11 tries in 16 games.
Duckham was the only English back in the 1973 Barbarians side that beat the All Blacks 23–11 at Cardiff Arms Park. In the first half he made a run that has become part of rugby folk lore, that brought gasps and cheers from a Welsh crowd more accustomed to regarding any Englishman with hostility. When he broke through the All Black defence, he appeared to confuse the commentator, Cliff Morgan, who did not know whether Duckham had sidestepped or dummied. He even sent the cameraman the wrong way; his change of direction was such that the camera went to the right and Duckham disappeared out of shot to the left. After the match he was given the nickname ‘Dai’ by the Welsh fans because he played like one of their own.
It will be interesting to hear what Duckham thinks about the present England side. They go into the 2017 Six Nations as favourites and on an incredible winning streak. Also, which English and Welsh players does he believe will be on the flight to New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in the summer.