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Welsh ‘border army’ accept rugby defeat with a smile

By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Welsh 'border army' accept rugby defeat with a smile

WALES rugby fans accepted their team's Six Nations defeat against Scotland with good humour as they watched the match from bars in the border country.

RED ARMY . . . Mick Davies, Don Garbutt and Maldy Roberts in ‘The Shed’ at Annan.  They were among many Welsh fans enjoying the international weekend in the border town

For the Army in Red, which did not travel to Murrayfield Stadium, the 29-13 scoreline, which meant victory for their hosts, was only one element of an otherwise enjoyable weekend pilgrimage.

Many hotels across the south of Scotland enjoyed a welcome boost in trade as scores of fans opted to venture just north of the borderline to watch the match on big-screen TVs.

The tradition has been established more than half a century in Annan where despite a wet and windy afternoon the pubs and hotels were busy with rugby-loving Welshmen.

Welsh rugby fans in Scottish pub
GREAT ATMOSPHERE . . . Welsh fans Professor Keith Wilson, John Batt and Brian Downes with Mary Robinson of the Queensberry Arms Hotel in Annan where a coach party from Wales were staying

Proud fan Brian Downes, resplendent in his Wales shirt, was part of a coach party of fans staying in the town’s Queensberry Arms Hotel.

“We’re having a terrific time in Annan,” said Brian, who with his friends was in Rome earlier in the month and watched the Welsh side hammer Italy 7-33.

“There’s a great atmosphere. The rugby is the purpose for the trip but we are going on trips to different places on each of the four days we are here.”

One northern accent among the melodic Welsh voices was Yorkshireman John Batt, who was swift to point out that his family were from Wales.

He said: “We’re all enjoying the hospitality. This is always a popular Six Nations trip for the Welsh. I understand fans have been coming up to Annan since, at least, the 1960s.”

At Murrayfield, Wales had a narrow 13-9 lead at half-time but the Scots impressed after the interval piling on the points for their first victory over the Welsh in the competition since 2007.


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