Sunday, 23 March 2014

My choice for squad of the six nations and who i think should by in the Wales squad.

15. Mike Brown, out classed the rest with his running and goalkeeping skills
14.Yohann Huget, lucky bounce, maybe, but he took his chances and looked very dagerous

13. Brian O'Driscoll, last tournament, still mixing it with the best at the end of his career

12.Jamie Roberts, the battering ram, really showed his best against France and Scotland

11. George North, with ball in hand he made metres and beat plenty of players

10. Rhy Priestland, only joking, im not that biased, i think this six nations may be the last chance he will be given in a while
10.Johnathan Sexton, his kicking voided any sort of Welsh attack

9. Danny Care, quick thinking and very annoying to play against

8. Taulupe Faletau, big ball carrier, one of the few outstanding Welsh players

7. Sam Warburton, showed real hunger, unfortunately has payed the price with a dislocated shoulder

6. Peter O'Mahonny, Irish forwards dominated this six nations

5. Courtney Lawes, lineout king and agile

4. Paul O'Connell, continues to inspire his team to great things and was instrumental in the rolling maul and at lineout

3. Mike Ross, another Ireland forward
2.Dylan Hartley, as much as i dont like him, you have to admit he had some great accuracy
1. Cian Healy, great ball carrier and useful in the scum and maul

Picking a Welsh squad at the moment is pretty tricky, so many tired looking players and a few injuries, I will freshen it up a bit and try and pick on current form, not on reputation:

15. James Hook, the squad needs more intelligent kickers and experience at the top level
14. Leigh halfpenny, he provides another kicking option and can be dangerous when running, his goal kicking accuracy requires him to be in the squad. Cuthbert has been anonymous this six nations.
13. Jonathan davies, coming back from injury but dangerous and quality.
12. Jamie Roberts, Wales main weapon in getting over the gainline.
11. George North, still young but showing he is class.
10. Dan Biggar, more consistant than Priestland and better at kicking
9. Mike Phillips, on the front foot he is still class, Webb is also showing potential.
8. Taulupe Falatau, not getting any competition for his jersey.
7. Sam Warburton, was on form this year. Close between him and Tipuric but, on form, Warburton is best.
6. Dan Lydiate, stuttered at first but is getting back to his best, finding his way in France too. The chop tackle is still his trademark.
5. Luke Charteris, if he can stop getting injured the he is a strong ball carrier and a weapon in the lineout.
4. Alun-Wyn Jones, my choice for captain and our most passionate player.
3. Adam Jones, has had some criticism but i think it is unwarrented.
2. Richard Hibbard, looked tired but is still putting his body on the line
1. Gethin Jenkins, unfairly treated by the ref against Englnd, he has still got it.

With injuries to HP, Warburton and Hibbard, i would replace them with Cuthbert, Tipuric and Owens for the South Africa tour.

Other inclusions that i would like to see on the tour are, Jordan Williams, preferably as a winger; Samson Lee, we hear so much about him but gatland doesnt seem too impressed; Owen Williams, impressive for Leicester and has routed Flood from 10; Rhys Patchell, we need to sort out who is best at 10 ad unfortunately neither Priestland of Biggar excite me at the moment; Lee Byrne, quality in France, experienced and has the 15 jersey at Clermont, a team that will be challenging for top spot in the Top14 and also for the H Cup.

As the world cup approaches i think we also need to see Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins being used more as impact players, coming off the bench.

Liam Williams has not impressed me when he has come off the bench and looks better in the starting 15. He was great against Scotland but that was against 14 men. If Hook wasnt available he will be Wales future 15 and Gatland already sees him as Halfpeny's understudy.

March 2014

We have just finished the six nations.
We could have made history by being the first team in history to win three championships in a row, as it turns out, we finished 3rd, deservedly so.
Both England and Ireland played a better game, and like the southern hemisphere, they have figured out the best way to cope with and beat Warrenball.
Third place is disappointing, we have the players and a good coach. I want to see the team play with "plan B" in mind, it had been talked about for years and Gatland needs to pull something out of the bag. When Warrenball  is used effectively then it is a winning game plan. When it doesnt work, Gatland needs something else.
I think the team needs a minor adjustment. Most notable at 9 and 10. Preistland was so good in 2011 but he has only shown glimpses of that form, since 2012.
Why Hook isnt included more is bizzare, he is rarely used.
There is talk of a probables versus possibles game to help choose a team for the South African, summer tour. Hopefully this will show Gatland where everyone is.
Some uncapped players that interest me would be Owen Williams and Jordan Williams. Give these boys a go.

Walesonline  have chosen their two teams:

Warren Gatland's probables v possibles: We pick the two teams we'd like to see in trial match before South Africa

On the whole their choices are ok but other names that should be included are:

Rhys Patchell, Lee Byrne, Jordan Williams, Hallam Amos, Ken Owens and Samson Lee, to name a few.

I would like to see a change in gameplan, our backs are so talented, they need to play the game with ball in hand, run at the opposition, stop kicking the ball away, or at least have a better kick chase. Defending teams used to have the upper hand at the breakdown but roles are reversed now. The attacking team is now given more favour by the referee.
So stop kicking the ball to fullbacks, i either want to dee the ball going out or our player competing for it in the air.
Also, give the ball to our backs and have them terrorize the opposition, noone wants to have North or Roberts running down their channel.
Cuthbert is also great at running great lines and breaking tackles, let him run with ball, dont get him to pass to fullback or 10 so they can kick the ball to the opposition 15, who will run it back 20-30 yards at us.

South Africa is going to be a struggle and if we win one game then that will more than make up for a rubbish six nations campaign.
Can we do it? Anything is possible with our talent.

Injuries will force Gatlands hand:
Without key players Hibbard, Warbuton and Halfpenny.
I feel it is a blessing in disguise, freshen the team up and let someone else show what they can do.
Ken Owens will do well, as will Tipuric.
At 15 i think Gats will go with Liam Williams but Byne will be needed for experience against one of the best teams in the world. I want to see Jordan Williams used at 15 or 14, Cuthbert hasnt shone and Williams will add something that we are missing, something that another Williams used to provide...

In Gatland we trust

Lets get to the present.
In the past 7 years we have won 2 grandslams and 3 six nations championships and made it through to the 2011 world cup semi final, dumped out by Rolland and...

Warren Gatland has helped the Welsh rugby team regain its footing and injected the team with belief and power. He is now our longest serving coach and has been very successful.
In seven years we have seen some great talent in the Welsh squad.
I dont really want to pick my favourties because i would have to include most of the squad.
Success in the northern hemisphere hasnt traversed into success in the southern hemisphere.
During Gatlands term, we have only beaten Australia once.
We have been close on so many occasions, normally only missing out by one score and sometimes in the last minutes. I dont know why, but we are all hungry for a victory and, i feel a greater longing for victory against one of the big three over a six nations title.

2005 Grandslam and the rollercoaster ride before Gats

I said that the reemergence seemed to start in 1999 but the main year for us was 2005, the first grandslam in decades and some new names to get people talking.

The one notable game was against England, a game we were supposed to lose. Young talent starting to shine. The enigmatic man with the shaved brown legs and big silver boots.
That kick:

That tackle:

Wales played a fast flowing style,  lots of offloads, somewhat error strewn but exciting to watch.

A great grandslam but wasnt followed up and we would  have to wait another 3 years before Wales would truly fire again.

Players who impressed me during this period were:

Gareth Thomas, great captain and able to play in several positions.
Shane Williams, the small man, electrifying to watch.
Stephen Jones, another great 10.
Ryan Jones, went to my school, his first game against Scotland showed he was to become an important                     player.
Gethin Jenkins, a mobile prop, who enjoy putting boot to ball.
Tom Shanklin, exciting centre to watch and very reliable.
Martyn Willams, bossing the breakdown.

The reemergence of a rugby super power

So the 90s were a dark age for Welsh rugby and one best left at the back of the shelf. Granted, we had some great players and some amazing victories, but on the whole it was a period of shame.

1999 was a year that, i believe, saw something stirring.  That victory over England by one point. Scott Gibbs try and Neil Jenkins boot. It was the final game we played at Wembley and a rousing performance by the Stereophonics of a song that has become a favourite amongst Welsh fans for one day of the year:

This was the year that saw Wales host the world cup and gave the pupils of my school a day to remember, being given the day off to watch the opening ceremony, we had big screens set up in the school but i wasnt going to stick around, we watched it round my friends house.

It was a slow, stuttering start that saw us put in a decent performance in the 2003 world cup and win the 2005 grandslam but also saw us lose to Italy in the six nations and get dumped out of the 2007 world cup by Fiji in the group stages.

Friday, 21 March 2014


My first post will be about rugby, who i follow, why i like it etc.

My first experiences of rugby came in school, running around, not knowing the rules, our primary school team losing every game, this was surprising to me as the year above used to win all their matches, granted they did have Ryan Jones, who was to become the most capped captain of Wales.

So being Welsh and not to up to date on the rules of rugby there was only one team for me to support at a young age, the Allblacks, not knowing anything i just picked the team with Lomu, beast of a play, who could run through brick walls..

I have said that i am Welsh but, in fact i am only half Welsh, my dad being English. I feel that if he had been more passionate about sport then i may have found myself being an England supporter.

I am not sure when or why, but it wasnt long before i was passionate about Welsh rugby, granted i was growing up in the late 80s and 90s so wins were few and far between and, as a Welsh fan, i have endured wooden spoons and defeats to Italy.

So there we go, Wales are my International team and i will support them no matter what.

My favourite players, growing up, have been:

Neil Jenkins, he could kick penalties from anywhere.
Richie Collins, my next door neighbour and a reason for also supporting Pontypridd.
Ieuan Evans, i remember him diving for tries.
Scott Gibbs, that step.
The Quinell brothers, who could also run through walls.

I have always had trouble finding passion for supporting a National team. Pontypridd were a great team but i dont really feel a connection there. I grew up in the Caerphilly area. The introduction of regional rugby would have had me supporting the Celtic Warriors, a successful team but let down by the money men.
At the moment my two team would be the Dragons, a team that blankets my area, but there is little to cheer about at the moment, i am looking forward to Lee Byrne coming into the team and the reintroduction of Aled Brew, i love hearing the crowd shout BREEEEEW whenever he gets the ball, i bet he has missed that in Biaritz.
Currently i live just outside Montpellier so this is my second team, they are doing well and i enjoy going to games.
Supporting these teams is good but nothing gets my heart going like watching Wales play and i will watch every game, even if that involves getting up at 5 to watch them get beaten by Japan, second string team, mind.

Playing rugby has helped with my love of the sport, i play second row, i have endured slight concussions playing at school, that was due to me playing like a madman, giving away penalties and showing no regard to my personal safety. Recently i have tried to get back into it but my body isnt made like it used to be. I am in my early 30s and have tried out for my local team, Jacou, they are pretty good, but i was mixing it up with people in their early 20s. My diehard attitude and fire seemed to have deserted me and i was left with a sore achilles tendon but i havent given up and am currently working on my come back, hopefully my bad back will be gone soon.

So here is a bit of an introduction and i hope to bring more posts about the state of the game and in particular the Welsh team, hoping to avoid the mess between the regions and the WRU. I am here for the rugby and less so the politics.