The Welsh nation, and a few of England’s traditional rivals, hailed their rugby heroes Sunday after their back-from-the-dead World Cup win at Twickenham.
The streets of Cardiff rang well into the night to the sound of youths chanting the Welsh anthem “Land Of Our Fathers”, the Welsh hymn “Bread of Heaven” and “Delilah”, the international hit of Welsh pop legend Tom Jones.
Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards went to Sunday mass and said even the priest was celebrating the 28-25 win secured despite being 10 points behind in the second-half and suffering a spate of injuries to key players.
“He came out, raised his arms and said ‘Last night, last night. I’ve never seen anything like it’,” Edwards recounted.
“There has not been a party like that for many years,” said a ragged looking 22-year-old Dafyyd Grange who claimed to have walked the streets the whole night after leaving the historic old national rugby ground of Cardiff Arms Park where thousands watched the 28-25 victory on a giant screen.
“It feels like we won the World Cup, but it doesn’t matter now whether we don’t get to the quarter final. It was worth it for that match.”
Wales’ feat in coming back from 10 points down at half-time was named by some as the country’s greatest rugby moment. The result drew comment around the rugby world — and beyond.
Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale posted a picture of himself pointing at the Pool A table, which Wales now sit top of. He said: “What a game!! Come on Wales.”
Even Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson tuned in. “Tough but epic game,” he tweeted in a message to England. “Still all to play for against Oz. Hope Wales can get backline together for Fiji!”
England legends praised the Welsh, while coming to terms with their country’s collapse.
“For much of the game it seemed like they were clinging on for dear life and when those injuries started coming in the second half you felt it would be a hurdle too far,” said Clive Woodward, coach of the England side that won the 2003 World Cup.
“And yet heroes stood up all over the field, not least their inspirational skipper Sam Warburton who kept his cool and drove them on. He is some player and this was some win which will rightly be celebrated and talked about for years to come.”
England’s foes were not so kind.
“We always knew it was going to be pretty close, but I think it came down to character because England seemed to panic,” said Wales 1970s rugby hero Gareth Edwards.
“They were so near the winning line and they reminded me of an athlete coming around the final bend, thinking ‘I have to go for it’. They went for it, but couldn’t quite and were caught from behind, and Wales delivered the knockout blow.”
Former Australia cricketer Shane Warne predicted more humiliation for England when they play the Wallabies next Saturday.
“Congrats Wales, even sweeter when Australia Smash England next week & knock them out of the tournament hahah … Dry your eyes England!!” tweeted Warne.