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Rugby has myths.
The straight scrum feed, the citing process, Nigel Owens’ omniscience, the need to ‘earn the right to go wide,’ the offside line, the superiority of the ‘good old days,’ the myth that the team who ‘wanted it more’ is more likely to win, the dogma that the French are mercurial rather than just consistently inconsistent, the five minutes before and after halftime are ‘championship minutes,’ the overweening desire of fans for their teams to ‘just hold on to the ball’ and ‘build the phases, ffs’ and ‘never ever box kick.’
Oh, and then there is the myth that is Maro Itoje.
Two mythologies are featured this weekend: fearsome Welsh dragons and the light-running, feathery-tackling, carefully-scrumming, yet gracefully-jumping and quasi-angelic Ned Hanigan.
But perhaps these myths are connected.
Scientists have discovered the fossilised skull and bones of a real and ancient dragon on a Severn Estuary beach near the town of Penarth, only a few miles from Cardiff, within fallen blocks from a sea cliff.
The skeleton of this creature dates back over 200 million years, and is actually a Jurassic dinosaur, even if it is rather small, like Welsh (if born in Wales) are meant to be.
And this is where it gets really interesting. The real Welsh dragon species is officially named dracoraptor hanigani.
Why was it named thus? Two brothers, surnamed Hanigan, discovered the skeleton.
The hanigani dragon was about about six and a half feet tall, just like Ned. They had long tails, which Ned subconsciously copies, by way of a blonde ponytail.
‘Dracoraptor’ is Latin for ‘dragon robber’, which is what Michael Cheika hopes Ned will do to the Welsh lineout, this weekend.
The Penarth specimen was a youngster. Ned is just a skinny lad, never knew no good from bad.
This weekend, the myths collide.