Belfast Telegraph

'I had a foot in both camps as Ulster Rugby travelled to play the Scarlets on Sunday'

By Billy Weir

The Welsh are a strange lot, and I feel qualified to make such sweeping statements having not been born in the principality but conceived there, so I really had a foot in both camps as Ulster travelled to play the Scarlets on Sunday.

This was brought to us by BT Sport, who brought the curtain down on the weekend's European Champions Cup, or let's face it, the Heineken Cup as we all still call it, with Craig Doyle back in the studio saying that they would open the show 'in the best way the Welsh know'.

The mind boggled, but thankfully this meant a collection of middle-aged men terrorising us with nothing more than their close harmony singing and thankfully we weren't in Belfast or Doyle's opening wish of curtain up 'in the best way the Ulstermen know' would have cut to people protesting.

But that's more Casement Park than Ravenhill these days. Sorry, what's that I said, 'Ravenhill' ? Oh, I know it's called the Kingspan Stadium these days, but if it's good enough for Brian O'Driscoll to refer to it by its proper title then my belief in BOD is further fastened.

"They've got better at Ravenhill," he began before, like a startling retired centre, he was caught in the studio lights desperately trying to remember what it is now called.

"I know it has been rebranded..." he continued before Doyle turned into Gordon D'Arcy and rescued him by suggesting 'Kingspan'. Don't worry, Brian, no-one other than the very important people at Ravers call it that, and most people think Kingspan make bread.

Meanwhile, over in Llanelli, if it wasn't already damp enough with all the phlegm needed to say Llanelli, the heavens had opened above Parc y Scarlets - I'm not sure what Parc y make - and it was playing havoc with roving touchline reporter Sarra Elgan, who was the double of Gail Tilsley/Platt/Kingspan.

"We have our own little Del Boy with us this evening, check out the outfit and you'll see what I mean," she said as we panned onto former England scrum-half Matt Dawson in a Trotter-like cloth cap and jacket. Anyone thinking 'what a plonker' at this stage, just stop it, it's Christmas.

But he really is and fair play to Paddy Jackson who stood beside him and didn't say a word as Dawson embarked up a creek without a clue.

"Luke Wallace has come into midfield and you know him very well," said Dawson. "Indeed, Jack, I know his name is Marshall and not Wallace, you plonker," Paddy didn't reply as Dawson sank deeper into the depths of ignorance.

I'm sorry, that was a cheap shot, we can all make mistakes. I'll say no more, so on with the game and names were still to the fore.

It is a little known fact, and I know this practically being a native myself, that legally you are not allowed to have a game of rugby in Wales without the following - an Evans, Williams, Phillips, Davies and Jones.

However, a cursory look at the Scarlets' starting XV showed there was not a Jones to be seen - which is unusual, as Tom, well you know who, would have argued, but thankfully they had the presence of mind to have two on the bench. And a Bassey. I may have made that up.

Commentator Nick Mullins asked colleague Kingsley Jones (they've gone too far now) what to expect, but never mind that, I wanted to see which man with an expert eye on Ulster he would be joined by to ensure parity of esteem. Ah, Matt Dawson. No, be fair, let's hear the man out.

"For Ulster, it's all about the backs - Tommy Bowe, David Humphreys..." he said.

Oh for Pete's, or whoever's, sake, get a grip. Surely things would be better after the break?

"That was a kick to nothing from David Humphreys," added Dawson, who clearly hadn't listened, and then compounded matters by suggesting that 'maybe David Humphreys just had a quiet word' with the referee.

Sadly, it was Ian and not his long-retired big brother doing the kicking and even when Ruan Pienaar took over, not even he or Luke Wallace could save the day as the Scarlets prevailed and the Joneses returned to their respective green grasses of home.

As for Dawson, well, with his keen knowledge, it's natural that he is a captain on A Question of Sport, who celebrated the Sports Personality of the Year with a special edition.

It didn't start well, only three out of 12 in the Picture Board, but up against a team that included Phil Tufnell and Robbie Savage, you would fancy Les Dawson to win, never mind Matt.

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