The WRU and its Vice Royal Patron

In view of some of the comments, and with the benefit of a good night's sleep, I thought I should clarify that my previous post was not in any way directed against the monarchy (I can do that in other posts) or against William Windsor personally. Nor, for that matter, has it anything to do with the English bid for the World Cup; which I'm sad they lost, but don't think they ever had any realistic chance of winning.

The organization I most wanted to address was the Welsh Rugby Union.

The WRU is the sort of organization that frequently drives me to despair. It should be one of the prime focuses of Welsh national identity, but all too often seems to deny its Welshness. Perhaps this is understandable since, in historical terms, sport has been one of the few ways in which our national identity could be expressed, but it had to be done within an over-arching sense of Britishness because to do anything else would have been considered disloyal if not subversive. This led to a certain "over-compensation" in which the WRU had to make a particular show of its loyalty ... and this in turn led to it having more than its fair share of sycophants, each (as Macsen put it in one of the comments) eager for their OBEs.


But something that happened over the weekend gave me hope that things could be different. The BBC fiasco over the start of the Wales v New Zealand game resulted in deserved criticism from nearly every quarter in Wales. Roger Lewis, chief executive of the WRU, made the point particularly well in his article in the Western Mail on Tuesday, but it was the way he closed it that particularly caught my attention:

The creeping perception of the irrelevance of Wales in London by the media and for that matter by the politicians must be addressed. The voice of Wales, our voice, must be heard. It must be heard in Wales and in the corridors of the decision makers and opinion formers in London as well as in Cardiff.

If we want Wales to win, not just in rugby but beyond the field, we all have to take responsibility.

We have to take responsibility for ourselves. And that means convincing the powers that be, wherever they are, to have confidence in us and our abilities to make the right decisions.

To do that, we must have the confidence in ourselves.

All of us in Wales, in whatever walk of life, must be prepared to take control of our own destiny. In the tough times ahead we must be loud as well as proud, and we must be prepared to stand up together for what we believe to be right and fair. Wales may not have a haka, but we have a passion and a pride and an ability to shape our future around our own unique national identity.

Western Mail, 30 November 2010

As he made clear, he was talking about much more than just a bad decision by the BBC, more than just rugby, and more than just sport. He was talking about Wales as a nation. If we are to take control of our own destiny, then there is one small but highly significant step that the WRU could take to demonstrate that we do indeed have confidence in ourselves and our own abilities. It can insist that William Windsor resigns his position.

As I said, this is not because of anything that's wrong with him as a person, but because he has now chosen to identify himself as English ... which means that he can no longer identify himself as Welsh. By being British, he could identify himself with each of the nations of Britain ... that might at times have been awkward, but his position was just about tenable. Now it isn't.

Two things have come together in the past week: an expressed willingness on the part of the WRU to shape its future around our own unique national identity, as Roger Lewis put it; and William Windsor's own choice to identify himself as English. So let us raise our voices to make sure that he steps down as Vice Royal Patron of the WRU. There could not be a better time to do this than now, and the impending changes to his personal life provide a perfect opportunity for it to happen in a seemly fashion.

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Anonymous said...

Thw WRU - the 'Labour Party with a pint' as one person called it or 'Labour crachach' as I hear antoher - demeaned itself and the Welsh nation by naming the Wales-SA match after Prince William. It would have looked a slightly brown-nosed in the 1950s; a bit too chippy in the 1970s ... in the 2000s it just looked bizarre.

Welsh society, and certainly Welsh rugby fans, are not republicans. But it now looks odd. Like women insisting on being called 'housewives' or black people calling themselves 'coloured' or gays staying in the closet. It's of a time. That time is gone.

That they could have called the Cup after David Ivon Davies. But that would call for a level of knowledge and understanding of Welsh culture and history which would be suspiciously 'nationalist' or 'show-off' or 'welshie' for the WRU. They could even have called it after Ray Gravell, but then Welsh heroes don't have medals and tea-parties to give away.

I can't see the WRU getting rid of the Prince William Cup (even he looks embarrassed of it, poor dab). And like you, I have no grudge against him.

What the WRU could do is get rid of the Three Feathers which really is an insult. It implies we have as a nation no history of our own and no self belief. Like Australia, an empty land, which only came to existence thanks to royal imperial power.


Anonymous said...

Is there an allusion to the S4C situation in Lewis's remarks, do you think?


Anonymous said...

Not sure Hendre, but it can certainly be read as a direct appeal for the people of Wales to vote Yes in next years Assembly referendum.

I've thought for a while that Roger Lewis is doing a good job of steadily bringing the WRU out of the Labour Club backroom and into wider Welsh society.

As well as doing away with the royal English Patron, I wish they'd also do away with all the military stuff apart from the goat and maybe the band - going to a Wales home international feels like visiting a militarised zone. I want to attend a game of rugby not a British Army Jobs Fair.

Apart from that, I concur 110% with everything that has been said above.

Anonymous said...

roger lewis's laudible comments are another clear sign of how wales has changed in recent times...and how our perception of ourselves as a nation in our right has developed since the advent of devolution for wales.

comments of the type made by roger lewis would have been simply unthinkable only a couple of decades ago !

Leigh Richards

Anonymous said...

In terms of discussing Wales (and not the internal structure of the WRU, which I dislike to say the least- I'll leave it there, or it'll end up being a page long!). Anyway in terms of Wales, I think Roger Lewis is an excellent speaker, just listening to him makes me passionate about Wales, theres something of the Dafydd Wigley within him. I don't know if he has 'the depth' to be an AM, but as a speaker and performer I believe he would be excellent. Next Labour Leader in my opinion!!

In terms of having Will's as our Royal Patron, I'm not bothered- he's never in the matches so nobody realises it. It's not like Princess Ann in Scotland who seems to be there all the time (which is ironic, when 'Flower of Scotland' comes on!). Obviously I would like him gone, but is it worth fighting over- not really.

I believe when they named the 'Prince William Cup' it was a PR disaster- I remember a campaign for it to be named after Grav. Really it shouldve had a Rugby connection.

In terms of the feathers, although it's part of our history and we should know about it. In a Devolution Wales, I believe it must go- however in fairness the WRU have 'modernised' it by removing the ich dien, and you can't really tell the 'yellow' in it is a crown (or coronet rather).

As for the Army, I tottally agree its VERY annoying walking into the stadium and on the ramp you are bombarded by the British Army.
Although I would definitely keep the goat- although it's associated with the Regiment aka British Army, I think its been adopted now by Wales, and is now a 'Welsh symbol'.

Overall, I believe the WRU is a 'Welsh' organisation and are coming more an more 'Welsh'. I think the Prince William part was just a 'blip' just so they don't disassociate them too much from Britain. I don't think we'll see things like that again.

WRU is amazing for Wales and her culture. Roger Lewis is a true great and we should be proud of each.

Unknown said...

Roger Lewis surprised me, and I'm sure most other people, by delivering this polemic of the highest quality! Will he agree to be chairman of the YES campaign?

As for the Prince William Cup - I think the naming of it ranks alongside the compulsory playing of God Save the Queen in any home match (which continued well into the 70s believe)- regardless of who we were playing - as an inflamer of nascent nationalist feelings, so it is not all bad!

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