Tonight England go to Cardiff for the opening game in the 2015 Six Nations tournament.
The last time we played there, Wales battered us. It was not a pleasant thing to watch, as an England fan. But we were out-fought fair and square, so I’ve no complaints. Wales were the better team.
One of the greatest rugby books ever written is called Calon. It is by Owen Sheers.
Calon is about Welsh rugby. How important the game is in Wales. What it means to the Welsh. How intense – in particular – the England game is for them.
Calon means heart in Welsh.
Calon gave me a better understanding of Welsh rugby. It troubled me, to be honest. Especially the updated section in the paperback that deals with the game I refer to above.
But Calon also inspired me. Very much. The intensity. The desire. The sacrifice. And I know that intensity, desire and sacrifice are not exclusive to the Welsh. All other five nations’ players have those just as much, but no one has written as well about it in a book as Owen Sheers has, as far as I know.
Calon inspired me so much, that a book I have out in June is about a boy called Owen, who faces challenges as a member of his school rugby team. Throughout my book – called Deadlocked – Owen reads Calon. It gradually fills him with strength that enables him to do the right thing for his teammates. It gives him with heart.
They are about a team of English and Welsh boys who play for a rugby team on the border of the two countries who play each other tonight. The school is called Borderlands.
I am watching the match alone tonight, but I can imagine Owen sitting down to watch it with Rory and Woody, the heroes of the Rugby Academy’s other two books.
Just for the record – and speaking of intensity, desire and sacrifice -Woody is based loosely on things I read in Sir Clive Woodward’s book, Winning. And Rory is based on aspects of Jonny Wilkinson’s fantastic autobiography, Jonny.