The most extreme Six Nations fan: Meet the ‘Braveheart of Stoke Bishop’

Sam Bradpiece

This guy can’t stop playing the bagpipes when Scotland are on in the Six Nations

Recent weekends have seen the annual Six Nations rugby tournament dominate bars in the Stoke Bishop halls and in the pubs along Whiteladies Road. Passions flare and packed bars see national identities rear their heads. Stereotypes are dished out like the UBU boxes in Freshers’ Week.

The man in action

The man in action

Scotland have not won the Six Nations since the tournament’s inception and invariably end up near, or at, the bottom of the table. This does not stop one plucky ‘Stoke Bishop Scot’ from representing his country with pride after every Scotland match played. Heavily outnumbered, yet bold and proud, Edward Henderson-Howat’s weekend activities surely make him the best Rugby Fan in Stoke Bishop.

Picture the scene, sheets of rain are clearly visible through the bright lights of the Stoke Bishop bus stop; a huge mass of freshers huddle together eagerly waiting for the reliably late number 16. Scotland have just been crushed 20-0 by a dominant England team. An eerie noise penetrates the damp air and its soon apparent that a bagpipe is being played. Round the corner comes a drenched figure in a tartan kilt confidently marching towards bus stop blasting the music of his homeland.

Originally from the Scottish borders but now a Hiatt Baker resident, Edward started playing bagpipes aged 12. He claims that his actions are meant as a display of Scottish pride in an area dominated by English students – he claims, however, to be anti-Scottish independence and has patriotic rather than nationalistic motivations. One Stoke Bishop resident reaction was “can this guy please fuck off!” However, when asked about the best reaction to his playing, Edward testified:

“When the school pipe band went on tour to France, we had all the French girls running over to try and lift our kilts up whilst we were playing…  whilst laughing the word ‘pipe band’ on our tops, which is apparently French slang for ‘massive hard on.’ ”

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Edward apparently started playing the bagpipes seriously at school due to an apparent lack of rugby skills. Putting his self-confessed lack of rugby finesse aside, his enormous levels of bagpipe skill combined with a ‘ballsy, William Wallace attitude’ make him a classy representative of his country in Stoke Bishop.

The bus stop crowd looks on, some impressed, some mockingly, some amused. Completely undistracted by the intrigue he has caused, the piper marches on, up the hill, and continues his tour of the halls visiting Wills, Churchill, and Baddock. His defiant attitude and national pride in the face of crushing defeat surely make this Hiatt Baker resident the greatest rugby fan in Stoke Bishop. His method of support surely means more than downing pints, and swearing loudly at the ref on television.

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