In the lead up to the Rugby World Cup, Eddie Butler looks back 40 years to the death of a dictator and the autumn in Madrid where he first learnt to love rugby, reflecting on the struggles both Wales and Spain have faced since then.

Forty years ago, General Franco of Spain died. And what has that got to do with anything? I’ll see if I can remember.

I found myself recently, to a soundtrack of creaking limbs, playing cricket on the wonderful Central Park in Blaina, halfway up the Ebbw Fach Valley between Abertillery and Brynmawr. Physical protest induced mental confusion. Gazing from the pavilion across the outfield towards the rugby pitch at the southern end – where once David Watkins, Robert Norster, Mike Ruddock and Nigel Meek flexed supple muscles at the outset of their winter-sport careers – I said with great assurance that I had never been there before.

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