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This report is taken from PN Review 203, Volume 38 Number 3, January - February 2012.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
Little more than a week ago, a piece by Gwyneth Lewis appeared in the Guardian. Readers of this magazine, knowing her a poet of formidable intellect, who draws on contemporary science and technology thematically and metaphorically in a way that prompts comparison with the Metaphysical poets of that other great age of discoveries, might be surprised at her subject. She wrote about rugby, though distinctively, in a way recognisably her own. What other rugby writer would see in the progress of Wales in the World Cup 'the model of a mind'? 'As Welsh supporters watch the match,' she explains, 'mirror neurons in their brains will be in a high state of arousal. These are the cells that fire both when we perform an action and when we observe it. This may be a physical description of empathy. When the Welsh team plays...with its characteristic combination of close teamwork and flair, these qualities will be rehearsed in the temperament of the nation they represent'. This is a passage that would not be out of place in a book by Oliver Sacks.

Lately we have seen discussion of the relative paucity of novels and stories in which rugby union football plays a significant part. The outstanding exception is Roland Mathias's wonderful short story 'Match', which has it all: an account of a (real) schoolboy game that is as acutely observed as only a dedicated player could make it, poetic description and psychological truth. Apart from episodes in novels such as Times ...
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