Planet 228

Laura McAllister reviews
Into the Wind: The Life of Carwyn
by Alun Gibbard

Into the Wild: The Life of Carwyn James

Y Lolfa, £14.99

‘Carwyn is seen walking across the pitch, cigarette in hand, then resting against the rugby posts, with the pyramid (slag heap) behind him … there could not be a better image of the world that shaped Carwyn’s early years.’

Carwyn James is a natural twentieth-century Welsh hero, up there with Nye Bevan and Gareth Edwards. If they are the pillars of our nation’s overwhelming identification with rugby and (Labour) politics, then Carwyn managed to straddle both worlds, and with politics that were markedly different. That he is still a hero is some feat for a political nationalist. A cynic would say that his rugby CV trumped his political allegiances. After all, in 1971, Carwyn coached the British and Irish Lions to that famous series victory over the mighty All Blacks in New Zealand, then the following year coached his home town team, Llanelli, to victory against the touring giants at Stradey Park – ‘the day the pubs ran dry’.

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