Being a supporter in any sport is about belief, it is about refusing to admit to an invasion that turns a grain of doubt to a full-blown harvest, it is about exhilarating highs, crushing lows and the inability to ever truly leave it behind. The full range of emotions can often be experienced in one game let alone one season. Being a Cardiff supporter that full range is often experienced in one phase.

Many finely written blogs have been published about the season, where 2017/18 may sit in the wider tapestry of Cardiff rugby is needed. Being a Cardiff rugby supporter is being part of a broad, combative and compelling church. It is never easy, never simple, always absorbing and rarely boring. In a world where we are being asked to choose definitive sides and binary is no longer seen as wholly negative; Cardiff rugby still has that welcome ability to blur the lines. 1876, 1953, 2003, best scrum half since Edwards, Cardiff Blues never reaching a European Cup final, Cardiff never losing to Australia …. there are so many fault lines we could rename ourselves the San Andreas Blues!

The Trust has been set up with a refusal to apologise for making heritage a focal point (note here a focal point not the focal point) It would be easy for the Trust to be swayed into thinking that tomorrow and today are all that counts. Yes, it cares deeply for the fortunes of Cardiff rugby but rightly agitates for the rich history and electric yesterdays to be central to the ongoing and most challenging of marketing environments. Wherever one sits on the timeline it is abundantly clear that Cardiff rugby needs everyone. There is always reason to visit the swirling debates of whether the regional pathway leads to Regional representation despite this being at best a Mark Ring dummy double scissors. What is clear or should be to even the most ardent ‘regionalistas’ that any professional side stands high above the semi professional (and lower levels) below. If you support one of the four teams call them Regions, regions, clubs,  rhubarb, custard or even without a geographical prefix but know what they are and how they exist.

There are many messages coming from the Board that suggest that Cardiff is no longer a threat, that the massed hordes at Taffs Well railway station waiting like zebras at the water’s edge for an affinity log to ride need to wait a little longer. Combined with the third year of ‘Project Danny’ could it be that events are taking a welcome turn for the better? Being a ‘Cardiff man’, whatever that means, is appropriate along with the obvious truism that success on the pitch is worth a thousand hashtags; it simply stands like Eisteddfod stones.

ith the oncoming storm that is ‘city regions’ it seems that there is a natural synergy with using the C word far more widely, far more positively and far more unapologetically. The ‘starting with a blank piece of paper’ test would suggest that if a business was setting up then the principal centre of population, economic engine, a recognised name etc would be, to use an Americanism, a no brainer. Those who suggest that the name is toxic are guilty of deliberate projection of their own bias and inability detach representation from realisation.

That there are four teams in Wales and three relatively close across the border competing for attention and sponsorship and only a few missteps away from losing supporters, should make the marketing man’s job tantalisingly tough. Etch out an identity in a cluttered landscape, make your brand heard, make it visible, make it matter is pure 1st year BA Marketing. Respect for Scarlets and Ospreys is due for different reasons but ultimately for robust attitudes to identity. Aligned to the cold hard geographical and economic fact that Wales is small, poor and laden with a dispiriting sense of entitlement (in certain quarters), the need for a cogent brand to emerge is overwhelming. The plaintive cry involving science and rockets here is as ubiquitous as an article about Gavin Henson in the Western Mail. As each month turns to each season it is hard to escape the conclusion that Cardiff rugby must embrace this opportunity.

It is hoped that 2017/18 may yet prove to a line in the sand, a moment (a nine-month, multi-time zoned & multi-lingual moment). As supporters we know we can all play a part – joining the Trust and/or Supporters Club is a great start, asking questions, hard, easy or moderate equally so. It may be a minority position but debate, argument and the occasional barbed comment can be positive. By closing our eyes, huddling close to the things we hold as truth we become less – in a small rugby country, this is almost tragic. What could be vibrant, rich and raucous is still possible but we must embrace the hope that Cardiff rugby grasp their opportunity to take up with renewed vigour the idea of what it stands for, what it stood for and what it could be. In short the realisation that the club must remember what it is before it strives toward what it hopes to be.

To wholly misquote Giotto who probably sometime in 14th Century Florence said, “Regional rugby is the city of echoes, the city of illusions and the city of the yearning”.  

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