Day 2 of HCup will be played this week-end and Ciel et Blanc will travel on Saturday (7pm) to Llanelli in Wales to challenge this tough team of Scarlets. Jamie Roberts, international Welsh and proud to be, shared a great moment with us to present his beloved Wales country.
Jamie, we will discover with you the greatness of Wales and its rugby. Do you know why are you called the red dragons? Where did it come from?
Oh Jesus! Tough question to start with. I guarantee you that not many Welsh people could answer to that question. All I know is that it is the symbol of my country and that it must be linked to our monarchy, kings and queens… But not much more, I might have learnt that at school when I was very young, very far back in my school days. I am a bit ashamed of myself not being able to answer that question.
To keep going on the Welsh symbols, what does the leek refers to?
Again this is tough question, but I know a bit more about that one for sure. Obviously the leek is symbolic to Wales, this to celebrate Saint David on March 1st. On that day, we must either wear a daffodil or a leek.
What type of national celebration is going on every year on March 1st? Do you personally celebrate this day?
Yes, I do. Every year on the 1st of March, it’s Saint David’s day, Saint David who was our national patron and we celebrate all things Welsh. Usually people dresses up, especially children, in typical Welsh folk dancing clothing and go out in the streets, just to celebrate Wales. You could find restaurant putting up special menus for that day, street concerts are usually programmed in cities, obviously a lot of dancing singing going on. Plus all the parades that goes on all around the country. It’s a real tradition and celebration day.
What about the Welsh Language, I heard you were speaking Welsh, could you tell us something, like a joke or simply present yourself in Welsh?
Yes, I speak fluent Welsh. A joke will be difficult, I don’t have any coming out my mind, so I will present myself and add a few bits in. (Speaking Welsh) “My name is Jamie Roberts, I play Rugby for Racing Metro 92 in Paris. I am looking forward of coming back on the pitch after having an operational ankle four weeks ago”
Do you all learn the Welsh language at School?
No, I would say that there isn’t so much percentage of children that go through schools and Welsh education as a first language. Generally I would say that there aren’t much Welsh speaking in the South east of the country. But if you go upward, towards north Wales or even West Wales, I guess they would be a lot more children speaking Welsh in schools. So yes, I would think that North Wales would be the region where you would find more Welsh speaking as their first language. I suppose that in Cardiff there are two or three secondary schools where everything is studied in welsh, in which I went to. But still, there aren’t too many Welsh speaking in Cardiff. However, we are very proud to say that we are able to speak Welsh. It really gathers us all!
What would be the most popular cheering songs of the Welsh fans?
In the Millenium standium, the most popular one would be “Songs of heaven” which is a famous song. Then they would be some Tom Jones, he is very appreciated by rugby fans. Otherwise there are many famous Welsh band songs such as the preatures, stereophonics as those bands have hits synonymous with rugby. There is always a great atmosphere when Wales plays at home.
What do you feel when fans sing along while you are playing in the middle of all that?
It’s amazing, really. It is one of the most incredible feelings any human being could feel. Hearing 75 000 people singing a song in a closed roof stadium during the VI Nations or the November Internationals, I can tell you that this one is a special thing to go through.
Which country would be your best enemy or your for ever enemy?
Definitely England. I think those Wales vs England match always I had that special extra spice about it because of the History of the two countries. I think there is always more than just rugby involved in that game. And these feelings would be in any context, any sports. It always has been the Old enemy, that is the way we used to call England. Every opposition between Wales and England is a very big match. And every player really wants to play this match in particular, for the context that this match means to all of us.
Who would be the Welsh rugby legend for you?
I think, if I choose someone from my era, there would be three people who have stand out and who I played with on the international level. It’s Shane Williams, Martin Williams and Steven Jones, three guys who I shared the Welsh jersey with and guys that I looked up to when I was a young player.
Everybody in the world says that the Millennium stadium is incredible but Welsh people used to say that Arms Park was even more special? Have you ever been to this stadium?
No, unfortunately no. The Millennium stadium was rebuilt for the 1999 World Cup and that time I was only twelve, I couldn’t personally comment on that as my debuts for Wales were in 2008. But I know that fans love both stadiums. From speaking with my dad, the Arms Park was a very famous place, an amazing venue.
Since 2003, Welsh rugby changed as it became more professional due to teams separated into regions. How did people and rugby fans lived through this transition? Which way did you prefer it?
It was a big moment for Rugby in Wales, it become more professional. We had Cardiff, Newport, Llanelli, Swansea, Neath, a lot of teams which went into four regions. As for every change, some people were happy and some other weren’t as much and felt alienated by it. It is hard to put example on it. But for example in the Cardiff Blues, some other clubs had to join the Cardiff Blues which made some of their old fans feel very unhappy about it. Because even in the name or colors, they kept Cardiff Blues and carried on playing in Black and Blue. So it was like changing your team which you were cheering for. A lot of fan felt alienated and still do I think. But beyond that, in general it has been successful.
Personally, I think that’s a good thing but a little part of me thinks it isn’t. As I loved this small club spirit, that village mentality, all of that was amazing. Something I loved when I was little and before I played for the Cardiff Blues.
What does this photo means to you? And what about this hat and flag?
This was in 2012, a true amazing day. We beat France to win the Grand slam. It was just an incredible feeling as it was four years after our last grand slam of 2008, in which I made my debuts for Wales. I remember that it was a real team effort and that we have put a lot of hard work into this match to win it. Obviously while I was celebrating around the pitch, a fan threw me his hat and flag, and you know in those moments, you are so happy and those sorts of things could happen. But when I see my face on this photo, it was a bit of a mistake (Laughs). No, just kidding, it was pretty cool.
What about this one, in the Stade de France?
This was a special day last year, obviously with my Center partner John Davies who will play this week-end with the Scarlets. That’s one of the reasons why I am guttered not playing this week-end. But coming back to this photo, last year we lost our first game of the tournament against Ireland at home at the Millennium Stadium and had to come and win it in France, which we managed to do so. It was also my fiftieth cap which made even more special. So it was a big moment not only for me but also for the whole squad as this win leads us to success again last year. And you can see that on this photo, which is very nice by the way.
Last question but not least, who would define more the typical Welsh guy? Would it be Dan Lydiate on his tractor or Jamie Roberts playing “Big Love” on the guitar?
I suppose you have a good contrast there (Laughs) between myself and Dan because I grew up in Cardiff in the Capital city, I’m obviously a city boy, I love Cardiff, I stayed there over at University. Whereas Dan is the complete opposite, he grew in the country, his family earns a farm and he personally grew up farming. I think it is a good contrast for both of us coming to Paris and experiencing that together. I don’t think they would be a typical Welsh. But I know something which is scoop: neither of us can sing. That makes neither of us completely Welsh. (Laughs)
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Friday 19th August