Cardiff Blues and Wales flanker Sam Warburton talks Tour De Flats, conducting a choir and derby day in Europe

Sam Warburton is more used to conducting turnovers than choirs but recently he had to take charge of a rendition of the Welsh national anthem at the Millennium Stadium.

As well as conducting the Cardiff Blues Choir, the Wales captain also had to help David Flatman and Iain Balshaw master the lyrics of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers). So why did these former England internationals have to learn the Welsh national anthem?

It’s all part of BT Sport’s Tour De Flats, with Flatman this year tasked with travelling to the four points of the World Cup – London, Exeter, Cardiff and Newcastle – and completing a challenge at each destination.

In Cardiff the challenge was to sing Wales’ anthem and Warburton expalins: “They had a pad in front of them with the Welsh version, which they had no chance of learning, and another version that read phonetically.

“Being from Wales I’ve been singing it since I was little, but the Welsh anthem is a million miles away from what they would have been singing before. They knew ‘Gwald, Gwald’ but the other 95% they struggled on! It was pretty amusing!”

David Flatman & Iain Balshaw

Flower power: David Flatman and Iain Balshaw attempt to sing the Welsh national anthem. Photo: Huw Evans Agency

As for having to conduct the choir, Warburton admits that the singers would have been better off not paying attention to his movements. “I don’t know what everyone made of what I was doing,” he laughs. “They had an actual conductor there and he told me to just stick to the beat. As I’ve got a metronome brain from playing the drums I thought I’d be okay at that. I’m sure the choir completely ignored me and looked at the proper conductor behind!”

After two months in camp with Wales, focusing on a high-pressure RBS 6 Nations campaign, Warburton enjoyed being part of a more light-hearted afternoon at the Millennium Stadium. “Flats had to wear a daffodil on his head so I gave him a bit of stick; I think it suited him!” He also got a grilling from former prop Flatman – and you can watch the video of that here…

This weekend it’s back to the rugby, though. Cardiff Blues make the short journey to Rodney Parade on Saturday to take on Newport Gwent Dragons in a lunchtime kick-off in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

Both regions are well out of the running for the play-offs in the Guinness Pro12, so Warburton is looking forward to some knockout rugby. “It’s going to be awesome,” he says. “It’s probably the biggest game both sides have had for a couple of years, a derby and a quarter-final. I’m sure there’ll be a great atmosphere at Rodney Parade.”

Watch all the goings-on from Tour De Flats on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight show on Monday evenings.