RWC: Wales goes bonkers…

Or as the Independent on Sunday puts it :

Rydyn ni gyd yn Gymry nawr…

There are three sheep for every human, and in winter it’s the wettest place in  Britain. But today Wales, the most maligned member of the union, can hold its head up as the mightiest after becoming the only British country to secure a place in the semi-finals of the rugby World Cup.

Wales Online captures the mood.

DOES it get any better than this?
Well, we might be about to find out in the next week or two.
Wales are off to Auckland with dreams of World Cup glory very much intact.

Tomorrow’s Western Mail front page.

So in Love. The players cherish one other….the nation adores them too.

Oh come on – it’s only a game!

,

  • Jimmy Sands

    What World Cup?

  • Dewi

    Very good Mr Sands!

  • between the bridges

    dewi congrats and good luck. but as for ‘the most maligned member of the union’…we might give you a run for that title!!

  • Dewi

    Yeah btb…we’ll play you for it!

  • This is the wrong time for Welsh people to go bonkers. I know it is hard to control the passion but their team has to beat the French.

    If they dont do that, they will go away feeling that they have missed out on what might have been.
    On the other hand, if they get into the final, they will reach a certain level of fulfilment, even if they lose it to the all blacks.

  • Dewi

    Seymour – been enjoying your contributions, How do you think Wales have improved so quickly? According to Martyn Williams it was puking up in Poland that did the trick…I might write about the warm up programme if we beat France.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Gatland says he changed his approach completely about a year ago. He decided that giving players responsibility on the field was a mistake and that they responded better to being told what to do. Enlightened despotism if you will. Not sure I buy it entirely.

  • Dewi

    It’s a different level of strength and fitness that’s done it. How we acheved that is the question.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Well it’s a young team and they’re not drinking. Willie Duggan will be horrified.

  • Into the west

    w’re all rooting for your team Dewi
    Go on and win it friend

  • Yes indeed go on and do the business..

  • Sorry , forgot to say well deserved congratulations.

  • A good question Dewi.

    I have been a rugby fan since a child in the 1970s, so I do remember the Wales glory days. I had also been thinking about your question before you asked it.

    The answer is not just about what happened in the last few months. Other contributing factors have been bubbling under the surface for a much longer period.

    It is easy to forget that between this and the last World cup, Wales won two grand slams in the six nations. The most recent of these was 2008 when Warren Gatland first began his stint as Wales’s coach.

    Gatland would be the first to admit that as a manager, you don’t build your best team overnight. However, even back in 2008, they already had some of their big jigsaw pieces in place. The row of Jones, James and Jenkins had almost become as permanent a fixture as the Pontypool front row. That front row is now strengthened by Huw Bennett, the Ospreys hooker. In the back line, you had players like Mike Philips and Shane Williams. Still, there were weaknesses in the back row and at fly half, whilst at centre, class players such as Henson and Shanklin were not going to appear at Wales’s next World cup campaign. In other circumstances, these two players might have been there. Shanklin was coming to the end of his career and had to retire through injury. I don’t know what happened to Henson. I think there is a tragedy there. I hope he comes back to mainstream rugby. Still, it takes time to fill these gaps but I believe that Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts have now completed that transition.

    Some interesting players have come into the Wales back line and made an impact. Wales have not had a world class fly half since Jonathan Davies switched codes at the end of the 1980s. Stephen Jones has been a great servant for Wales and is still in the squad. Priestland is not yet World class but he has made a big enough improvement, particularly in the last few months, to become the No.1 fly half choice. Then there is George North. This boy is very exciting. He has the talent of Williams but he is also big. If he is injury free he will be an Ace in the next Lions tour.

    The back row is another department of the Wales team which has improved rapidly recently. Lydiate and Warburton have been in the team for a couple of seasons, whereas Faletau, originally from Tonga, has just burst onto the international scene for Wales. Of the three back rowers, Lydiate, is the eldest at the age of 23. Warburton, who has just turned 23 has become an outstanding international player as well as team leader in the last couple of months. This back row looks set to be around for many years.

    You can not comment on Wale’s improvement without mentioning management. It is hard to avoid contrasting the preparation of the Welsh and English teams. In the latter case, there was a lack of discipline off the field. Shades of England’s football World cup under Ericsson.

    I have been an admirer of Warren Gatland for years, no more so than when he took Wasps to Heineken cup glory twice without ever having the strongest team. Not long before he ended his playing career, Gatland signed Howley to play for Wasps. That was the genesis of what is now a successful coaching relationship between the two men.

    Those who suggest that the preparation of the Wales team has been excellent are probably right but again, I don’t think this preparation happened overnight. Warren Gatland inherited a Welsh side, followed by a Nation that could never break out of the shadow of their great 1970s team. Dealing with that baggage would not have been easy. The mental toughness of this team, off the pitch as well as on is an underrated ingredient in the success of a sporting team. I think Wales now have that mental toughness and I think it came through in way they handled themselves since their disappointment of losing to South Africa.

    All in all, this is the most exciting Welsh team we have seen for more than 3 decades and they go in as very clear favourites to beat France in the next match.

  • Dewi

    Thanks Seymour. I think however that conditioning and strength has been the difference – that polish camp seems to have been extremely effective.

  • Dewi,

    If you are right then Wales’s form at the moment is a 5 minute wonder, which will be cancelled out after the World cup is over. I dont believe that. I think they will prosper considerably in the future.

  • Dewi

    No – they’ll continue upping ftiness, strength and pace – the skill we’ve always had.

  • England must be rueing their gross ineptitude of not signing up Shaun Edwards when they had a chance. His contribution to the Welsh success shouldn’t go unacknowledged.

  • Dewi

    Best English joke so far:

    “The team got confused between a World Cup and Mike Tindall’s stag do…”