THE BLOG

English or British?

16/03/2016 12:42 GMT | Updated 14/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Well that is the end of another Rugby Six Nations weekend. England are crowned as champions with a game to spare and the whole championship has seen some great rugby being played and lots of excitement. England beat Wales, which is always nice, especially after they beat us in the Rugby World Cup last year. Scotland beat France, which is good to see as Scotland have been perpetual nearly-men recently when it has come to Six Nations victories. And Ireland walloped Italy, which I think was a bit of a surprise as Italy are a better team than the scoreline suggests, and although Ireland played well, it wasn't a performance that one thought would have produced sixty-odd points. Surprises and talking points have followed three excellent sporting matches, and that is how it should be. Now on to next weekend - Super Saturday - when all six teams play and England could win the Grand Slam. I really hope they do. It is about time we had some glory back in Rugby and silenced all the noisy neighbours for a season at least.

And there is the thing. For the Six Nations rugby I am English. All of the other Home Nations are sworn enemies, with all of the old and cliched rivalries brought up ad nauseam. Everyone seems to hate the English and makes no secret about it. As soon as anyone English speaks out against another Home Nation there is outcry of arrogance and even racism. Unbelievable reactions sometimes.

But hang on, last weekend we were all British. We stood shoulder to shoulder to support our Davis Cup tennis team. Most of the team are Scottish - Andy and Jamie Murray - but somehow we forget the nationalistic tendencies and pull together. Is this confusion? Hypocrisy? Picking and choosing? Or is it a huge positive of living in a country in Great Britain where we can have our own country and then another entity above that? The best of all worlds. As a British person, I can support a British team, or someone competing within a British collective. But is it conceivable that I would support a team or someone from Wales, Scotland or Ireland if they were competing for their own country? Would they support an English person or team? Doubtful!

Sometimes I struggle with being British. Because when asked I will tell people I am English, in the same way a Scottish, Welsh or Irish person will describe themselves as from their home country. I have no problem with that, no problem at all with national pride or national identity, I think it is all great. Nationalism - no - that involves blindly recognising only your own country to the exclusion of others and that is a hugely unhealthy position to adopt in my opinion. Collaboration seems far more positive and beneficial to me than unilateral nationalism. There is a whole political discussion there which I am not going into now as I want to keep this related to sport.

How can we be so passionately schizophrenic? Yesterday I despaired when George North ran in his try for Wales. But if he does the same for the British and Irish Lions next year in New Zealand, he will be my hero. I will love nothing more than seeing Jonny Sexton kicking his goals for the Lions, but I hope he misses everything in an Irish shirt. Isn't that a strange situation to be in? I like to think of myself as a person of integrity and trustworthiness. But this ambiguity of support challenges all of that.

Or maybe I should stop thinking about it and over-analysing so much. Maybe it is OK to pick and choose and only support certain people when they are winning or popular. I will ponder this as I watch my favourite football team later on Match of the Day - Leicester City!