Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not a Dry Eye in the House

I was told I would never make it because I'm too short. Well, I'm still too short. It doesn't matter what your height is, it's what's in your heart. - Kirby Puckett

In a recent Telegraph article a solicitor is reported as stating in a tribunal that "Welshmen do not cry in front of people - unless they lose at rugby." This month though it wasn't the defeat to Australia that brought enough tears to break the levys of the Taff but rather the final farewell to one of their greatest sons, Shane Williams.

It's true that there isn't much that brings a Welshman to tears. Grand Slams, pubs running dry and catching your old boy in your flies.

However, when Little Shane faced the cameras, children in his arms, having crossed the line wearing the 3 feathers for the final time, there couldn't have been a dry eye in the Millennium Stadium.

Wales was still in a state of mourning for it's other great number 11, Gary Speed, when the players lined up for a minutes silence in his honour. Then as the anthems were being belted out it was rugby's speedy 11 that broke hearts. Head dropped, tears flowing, it showed what Wales meant to Shane.

Shane means so much to Wales too though. From his debut against France in 2000 and his try scoring full debut a week later, Williams has out lasted "great redeemers" and many false prophets. In 11 years the Welsh wizard accumalated 87 caps and scored a Welsh record 58 tries.

It wasn't just Shane's try ratio that made him a hero though. It was the obstacles he over came, the man in a land of giants story, the nice guy attitude that isn't just a persona and the ability to entertain when he is on the rugby pitch.

Think of truly memorable Welsh rugby moments and it won't be long before Shane comes up. His performance against New Zealand in the 2003 World Cup when he wasn't even considered a first team player, his help in two Wales grand slams, two amazing tries against Bryan Habana and the most amazing late rally against Scotland in 2010 that handed Wales the most unlikely of victories.

It was that spirit, that talent, that attitude that meant whenever Williams was on the field there was always a belief that Wales could achieve anything, could clutch victory from the jaws of any defeat.

Shane loved playing for Wales just as much as the fans enjoyed watching him.  With the professional Shane is unique and that's why on December 3rd there wasn't a dry eye in the house. In fact in almost any house in Wales.

Cymru am byth! 

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