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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 07:00 GMT
Poet attacks 'joke' WRU in verse
Gwyneth Lewis and WRU logo
The national poet said she felt compelled to speak out
Wales' national poet Gwyneth Lewis has reacted to rugby misery by attacking the game's hierarchy in verse.

A year ago, she celebrated the Grand Slam in rhyme, but in a season when Wales have lost both coach Mike Ruddock and their form, she wrote A Wooden Spoon for the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

Ms Lewis complains: "You've made our last Grand Slam a joke".

But the WRU was disappointed she wrote the poem, "particularly without contacting us for any information".

Ms Lewis is famed for writing the giant inscription "in these stones horizons sing" on the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, and was appointed Wales' first national poet last year.

Last year, her work The Ball Between Us opened with mention of Gavin Henson's hair and heaped praise on the team that won Wales' first Grand Slam for 27 years.

A year on, as the final weekend of the 2006 Six Nations against France approaches, Wales are contenders for the tournament's wooden spoon, having lost two (England and Ireland), drawn one (Italy) and won just one (against Scotland).

Ms Lewis' latest work criticises the WRU for what she calls "a terrible season" which followed the resignation after just two games of this year's Six Nations campaign of coach Mike Ruddock, who steered Wales last year.

In the poem, she criticises the WRU committee with the words: "It's you, not the team, who have dropped the ball."

Gavin Henson
Henson's famous hair was praised in last year's poem...

She said: "Poets are not just there to write about flowers are they? I mean I think we are aware they speak as normal people.

"When we won the Grand Slam last year I wrote a poem in praise of that. And I think if you've given praise you also need to speak plainly and say difficult things when they need to be said."

"Although I am a bit worried about my rugby career at the moment," she added with a smile.

In response the WRU issued a statement expressing their disappointment at the national poet's latest muse.

"We were pleased that Gwyneth Lewis chose to write a poem about our Grand Slam last year and the historic game against New Zealand.

"We're disappointed that she's chosen to write this new poem, particularly without contacting us for any information on the matter," the statement read.

A Wooden Spoon for the WRU
(A druid speaks)

I have consulted the mistletoe,
stared at starling footprints in snow:
the time is ripe for your overthrow.

I give you a spoon I shaped of ash
because you didn't nurture the flash
of play but thought, maybe, of cash.

Here's a dip I turned from oak
but look, in your hands, it slips into smoke.
You've made our last Grand Slam a joke.

Actual rugby can never redeem
your backroom moves of dodge and scheme.
It's you who need to raise your game.

How can a committee always outlive
coaches, players? It's hard to forgive
shadowy men with hands like sieves.

Here's the last spoon, I carved it from gall:
it's you, not the team, who have dropped the ball.
Hang this up, with shame, in your hall.

Gwyneth Lewis
National Poet of Wales

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