Archive for March, 2012

Merv the Swerve: 1946-2012

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Two days before Wales won the Grand Slam with a pulsating win over France, one of the country’s rugby legends passed away after a long illness. The word great is often over-used in describing a sportsman. Mervyn Davies wasn’t just great at his craft, he was the greatest No 8 to have ever played the game.

Mervyn made his debut for Wales for 1969 and remained a fixture in the team for seven years, captaining the team to a Grand Slam ironically against France in 1976. He suffered a serious calf injury during the game which left him limping for  most of the second half, but he refused to leave the field of battle. His players and the crowd knew that if he had not remained on the field, Wales would have lost the match and the Grand Slam.

Mervyn Davies was not a big man by today’s standards but his 6ft 4inches gangly frame, weighing in at just over 151/2 stone gave him the ability to be one of games  finest line out specialists. He possessed superb ball handling skills which explained why he played basketball for Wales prior to earning fame with the oval ball. His ability to cover the field in defence was second to none. He was a tackling machine and he could read a game superbly.

Wales won two grand slams and three triple crowns during his mercurial reign at No 8. He was a member of the first and only British Lions team to win a series in New Zealand in 1971. Surprisingly he went to South Africa with the Lions in 1974 as second choice to England’s Andy Ripley. However, Mervyn rightfully reclaimed his test place and made an immense contribution to the Lions’ trouncing of the Springboks.

My first memory of Mervyn Davies was as a fellow pupil at Penlan Comprehensive School in Swansea. There were nearly 1500 boys on the register, and following a lesson there would be a sea of pimply youths meandering their way along the narrow corridors to the next lesson. I distinctly remember a massive figure with a shock of black curly hair walking towards me head and shoulders above the rest of the seathing cauldron; totally oblivious to his surroundings. I later learned that was my first sighting of the legendary No 8.

The mass of curly hair would soon be adorned with his trademark thick white head band, and the distinctive Zapata moustache created an imposing and unforgettable character on the field of play. Mervyn was scheduled to captain the British Lions in New Zealand in 1977 until he suffered a brain hemorrhage playing for Swansea against Pontypool in a Welsh Cup semi-final. He would spend six months in hospital recovering and a great career was prematurely ended at the age of 29. Wales only lost 7 matches when his name was on the team sheet.

Many observers claim that Mervyn Davies redefined the No 8 position, but I disagree. He was a one off. Since his enforced retirement 36 years ago nobody has dominated the position in the way he did. Some pretenders enjoyed similar line out skills, but nobody has possessed his mobility, his vision and uncanny timing for being in the right place at the right time.

May you rest in peace, Mervyn.

Mervyn Davies: Penlan Comprehensive, London Welsh, Swansea, Wales and the British Lions.


America on the Brink

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

This is an excerpt from a column published last week by Thomas Sewell. Any American eligible to vote, and who cares about their country and western civilization as we know it, should read the passage carefully and inwardly digest before casting their vote in November.

Many people are looking to the many primary elections on March 6th — “Super Tuesday” — to clarify where this year’s Republican nomination campaign is headed.

It may clarify far more than that, including the future of this nation and of Western civilization. If a clear winner with a commanding lead emerges, the question then becomes whether that candidate is someone who is likely to defeat Barack Obama.

If not, then the fate of America — and of Western nations, including Israel — will be left in the hands of a man with a lifelong hostility to Western values and Western interests.

President Obama is such a genial man that many people, across the ideological space, cannot see him as a danger.

For every hundred people who can see his geniality, probably only a handful see the grave danger his warped policies and ruthless tactics pose to a whole way of life that has given generation after generation of Americans unprecedented freedom and prosperity.

The election next November will not be just another election, and the stakes add up to far more than the sum of the individual issues. Moreover, if reelected and facing no future election, whatever political constraints may have limited how far Obama would push his radical agenda will be gone.

He would have the closest thing to a blank check. Nothing could stop him but impeachment or a military coup, and both are very unlikely. A genial corrupter is all the more dangerous for being genial.