Futile Search for Son of Destiny to Save Nation

Article excerpt

Byline: Mario Basini

IT'S that time of year again. A new season of rugby internationals and another messiah to magically lift us out of the mire of our own mediocrity. First it was the "Great Redeemer", the New Zealander Graham Henry who, as coach, would usher in a new golden era of Welsh rugby. Three years on, we find ourselves still thrashing around in the mud wondering whatever happened to the miracle.

Now it is the turn of another god-like figure who will lead us out of the rugby wilderness, this time by donning the sacred shirt of the Welsh outside half.

Iestyn Harris, born in the North of England but of impeccable Welsh stock, is today scheduled to make his rugby union debut for Wales against Argentina. And, once again, he carries the hope of the nation on his broad shoulders.

There is nothing new in this search for a man of destiny to lead a defeated Welsh nation out of its vale of tears and into the Promised Land of success and a new beginning.

During the Dark Ages when the Anglo-Saxons deprived our ancestors of much of their home island, the bards began to pour out their fevered verses greeting one hero after another as Y Mab Darogan, The Son of Destiny, ready to defeat our enemies and return us to glory.

Among the earliest of these heroes was Arthur, the lost leader, sleeping in a cave ready to rise again, defeat the Anglo-Saxons and restore us to our land.

One of the first examples of this poetry was Armes Prydein, written around 930 AD, when the poet prophesied men like Cynan Meiriadog, founder of Brittany, and Cadwaladr, the 7th Century son of the King of Gwynedd, would drive the Saxons into the sea.

Not surprisingly, the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1282 gave this sort of poetry a fresh boost. Soon men like Owain Glynd ^wr and Owain Tudur would bear the weight of the hopes heaped on them by the prophecies of the bards, those crosses between poets, priests and fortune tellers.

The tradition seemed to have come to an end with the accession of Henry Tudor to the English throne as Henry VII. …