Sport is all about fine margins. If Jonny Wilkinson had shanked his kick in 2003, if Solskjaer had not pounced on that loose ball in 1999 or if Lewis Hamilton had failed to overtake Timo Glock on the last corner in 2008; the face of recent sporting history in Britain would be very different. Sport is defined by the little moments that make massive impacts.
On a personal level, the weekend before last (25th-26th February) was a weekend full of ups and downs, elation and desolation, and, most certainly, fine margins. For a Welshman living in England, it doesn't get much bigger than Wales taking on England at Twickenham. Both teams kicked off their Six Nations campaigns with two wins from two; with Wales continuing their impressive World Cup form, whilst England welcomed a new era under new management with very promising, if not unspectacular, victories over Scotland and Italy.
With very little to separate the two teams, the game was decided by fine margins. Firstly, a runaway solo try edged Welsh noses in front with Scott Williams having the kindest of bounces to thank for eluding a scrambling English defence. If that margin was fine, the final play of the game provided a miniscule one. David Strettle bundled himself over the try line with three of the Welsh back line hanging off him for what appeared to be a certain score to present England with the opportunity to draw the game level. After what seemed to be hours of deliberation from the video referee, the decision came as inconclusive. No try. Cue elation. Cue some very dirty looks in a very English South Manchester pub. Wales had won by the finest of margins.
If Saturday was full of ups and downs, the following day would prove to be almost unbearable as I made my way down to Wembley to witness Cardiff taking on Liverpool in the Carling Cup final. I travelled down with very little expectations, fully expecting my boyhood team to take a beating at the hands of one of the most successful clubs in British football.
Despite Liverpool hitting the bar early on, events unfolded to the contrary as City took the lead before battling their way to extra time (but not before Kenny Miller missed when he seemed to certain to score… the finest of margins). Extra-time provided more heart in the mouth moments than anybody would wish for, as the game ebbed and flowed before the Reds took a lead to seemingly finish off Cardiff. However, mere minutes before the end, Cardiff hero and centre half, Ben Turner, bundled the ball over the line from a corner to send the blue half of Wembley into absolute bedlam. Penalties ensued to ensure that the game would go down to the wire, with Cardiff firstly seizing the initiative before two City penalties hit the post, Anthony (not Steven) Gerrard missed and Liverpool won the cup. Cue desolation. Cue some very smug looks from a lot of dancing Scousers. Cardiff had lost by the finest of margins.
Forty-eight hours provided me with juxtaposing emotions that could hardly be any more different, though were essentially separated by the finest of margins. A different camera angle in the rugby and penalty a couple of inches the other way in the football could have resulted in totally opposite results. Despite the despair that followed Sunday's final, it are these tiny margins that decide the largest of events, that make sport so exciting and compelling. We may have left Wembley empty handed but I wouldn't change this for a thing. Still, on the plus side, there is always a Welsh Grandslam to look forward to!