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No one has reviewed the Welsh Rugby team in a while so I thought I would give it a shot about this years success :) Having only been into rugby the past 4 years this may not be as knowledgeable as other reviews. You simply cannot argue with the fact that the Welsh are the most passionate rugby supporters in the world. Most countries have football as their prefered support such as England, Italy and France but I believe in Wales and New Zealand rugby is part of our heritage and culture. It is our national game and a sport which I believe we are now regarded as world class in.
Wales compete in both the six nations and the world cup. Wales have never won the world cup but have won the six nations title 24 times - the most recent wins both being grandslams in the year 2005 and of course this year 2008.
Since Warren Gatland was appointed in Novemeber 2007 there has been a huge belief in both the squad and the Welsh supporters. His first match as a coach was against England where Wales were 13 points behind at half time but fought back to win 26-19 with their first win over England at Twickenham since 1988. The welsh public do tend to get carried away once the team achieve a result..more so against England. Fans wont admitt to it but the possibility of another Grand slam was already playing on their minds. Week by week the fans started to discuss this idea of a brilliant start by Gatland and Edwards and it happened, Wales shocked rugby supporters all over the world by winning yet another Grand slam after such a poor and disappointing world cup.
More recently have been the autumn internationals where Wales have yet again impressed. They should have put the South Africa game away and come away with a win but it didn't happen. The match against New Zealand I believe could be a starting point to showing us where we are in the rugby world at the moment. Wales responded to the Haka by standing tall and not moving until the ref had to get on with the game. The fans reaction to this was simply breath taking. The whole stadium errupted with chants of "WALES WALES WALES" which made you feel such pride and passion. Wales were leading New Zealand at half time but unfortunately lost, however..Wales learnt so much from this match and developed a signifcant amount I believe. Wales go on to face Australia next week and I truly believe they will win.
Wales currently sit 6th in the IRB standings one place behind their rivals England. This weekend England play New Zealand and Wales play Australia - both knowing that the fourth place spot which is vital for the world cup is there to be taken. Wales need a convincing victory of 13+ I think it is to take the 4th place spot.
This year has also seen Shane Williams win the IRB International Player of the Year award beating off competition from players such as Dan Carter and the Welsh captain Ryan Jones. Shane winning this award shows just how much Welsh rugby has improved in recent years. He is the first Welsh player to win the award and I am sure he wont be our last.
Wales top players: Shane Williams, Lee Byrne, Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins and of course Martyn Williams
Players to watch: Leigh halfpenny, Andy Powell and Jamie Roberts.
Rugby holds an important place in both Welsh culture and society. The millenium stadium is often sold out on important match days showing you just how much rugby means to us Welsh people. Wales have restored the pride and belief back into the red jersey and I hope this success follows through to the world cup.
Cymru am Byth
So he's gone. The Great Redeemer has fallen from grace. Are we happy. Well I'm certainly not. Have we learnt nothing from history. Henry is just the latest in the long line of great welsh hopes to be shown the door by his incompetent, cowardly employers. The last coach not to resign or be sacked was John Dawes and he left in 1979. Even though Les Williams, the vice chairman of the WRU, Henry's employers, in a shocking display of bad management, publically stated earlier this week that Henry hadn't proved himself as a coach, if he cared to look at his facts he would realise that Henry has the best record of any Welsh coach since Tony Grey who was also sacked in 1988. So how Mr. Williams does that suggest he hasn't proved himself?? Perhaps Mr. Williams and his insulated collegues on the WRU ought to apply the same rules to themselves and ask each other if they've proved themselves as good managers of our national game. There would only be one route open to them, and that would be resignation. I for one am sick to death of one coach after another being made a scapegoat for the failings of the national structure and the ineptitude of the games administrators. Henry like his predeccessor Keven Bowring, constantly stated that the structure must change if the national teams performance was to improve. Like his predeccessor before him, he was ignored. Graham Henry was not a bad coach. The materials he had to work with were bad. Under him we beat France three times, twice in Paris, a feat Wales have not achieved since 1975. We beat England, now arguably the best team in the world. We beat the then World Champions South Africa for the first time in our history. We became the first northern hemisphere team to win a test series in Argentina. Does this strike you as the symptoms of bad coaching? Graham Henry has supplied my with my best Welsh rugby memories. I am not old enough to remember Edwards, John, B
ennett and Gerald Davies, but I do remember Gibbs dancing past the english on his way to that try, Craig Quinell charging for French line in Paris with acres of space in front of him, Wyatt stretching for the line in Agentina, Mark Taylor splitting the South African defence to score the first ever try in the Millennium Stadium. These will be Henrys legacy. What will be the WRUs? So I'd like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to Graham Henry and thank you for a wonderful three and a half years. You took us on a great adventure. It was a blast.
In this world that is slowly coming together and skrinking you would expect the importance of your nationality to fall. But NOT on the scale that the Welsh rugby team has taken it. There should be a limit to how many foreign born players there are in an international side. I will accept that New Zealand have used the three year residencial rule to their advantage for years. But at least the people who played fro their side were of the same ethnic background as their home born players. Bringing in retired players from the other side of the world is not what I view as accpetable. It all started when Wales looked high and dry in 1997 (or '98) and they appointed a sucessful from a New Zealand super 12 side. Lo and behold soon enough New Zealand born players with 'supposed' Welsh connections began flying in, and the Welsh profited enormosly from their contributions. But when Howarth's welsh connections did in fact turn out to be Maori ones people started doubting the heritage of their players. This doesn't really affect me since it is only dissapointing for the Welsh fans that their national team is losing their heritage, but it is also dissapointing for rugby if national teams become a matter of who has better skills regardless of which country they have roots in.
It's been a mixed year for the Welsh rugby side, having been at the France game at the Millenium Stadium I was not impressed at all. I saw my side get an absolute hammering, and left ten minutes before the end, in what was really a dire performance. There have been some good victories against Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Samoa to give encouragement, and nobody can honestly deny that Wales have the best stadium in the world for now and for some time into the future. The pitch is not in the best condition however, although a new system is apparently going to be introduced to improve it. The rugby in Wales is starting to look better, having seen the recent test against South Africa, but the WRU need to see more victories, especially against England, to get the public's imagination going.
OK, so you get lots of points from Jenkins, but he is too predictable AND plays for Cardiff (for all you English, they are the Man United of Welsh Rugby.) However in Arwel Thomas, we have a genius and Graham Henry's refusal to pick someone with so much trickery (even on the bench) is a joke. In fact, the best welsh fly-half is currently plying his trade in Leeds. It is about time we got Iestyn to play proper rugby and then we'd be the greatest again. In conclusion, maybe you sensible b@$t@rd$ are right and we should pick the ginger monster.
Greham Henry wins the job as coach for the British Lions hands down as far as I am concerned. He led a nation from the depths of depression to a position where they were able on the first occassion give the, then, World Champions a game then just over a year later to beat the South Africans for the first time in 93 years. We have to consider that the powers that be did not spend so much time, effort and money in order to intice a coach into this country when Wales had more to offer. The man is mentally strong, can see tallent when he is watching it and when selecting his squad to tour Australia next year will not have any deep roots in any of the home nations which will cause him to make a wrong selection decision. He is passionate about the game, has had plenty of success in New Zealand and with the quality of players he will have at his disposal lets just hope he can produce a test winning side.
In my opinion Graham Henry is by far the correct choice to be the next coach of The Lions. Ian McGeechan would have been an excellent choice as he has the advantage of being British but as soon as he ruled himself out there was only one man for the job. Graham Henry has led Wales from being a struggling nation to the heights of a ten game winning streak which included beating the likes of South Africa, France (twice) and England. CLive Woodward has proved to be very disapointing as he has a great squad of players at his disposal but doesn't seem to be able to get them to perform in the big games.
Wales have won the Six Nations 23 times, the last being in 2005. Their best result in the Rugby World Cup is third, which they achieved in 1987. They also hosted the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Welsh players are eligible to play for the British and Irish Lions. On 14 February 2006, midway through the Six Nations Championship, it was announced that Mike Ruddock was to resign as the head coach of Wales, citing family reasons. Australian skills coach Scott Johnson, who was named caretaker coach for the remaining three Wales fixtures, was offered the job as head coach, but chose to turn down the position in favour of an assistant coaching job with the Wallabies. Later reports focused on 'player power' being behind Ruddock being forced to resign by the WRU. Wales eventually finished 5th in the table, after a win, a draw and three losses. On 27 April, Gareth Jenkins was appointed as the new coach of Wales. On 10 May 2007, Wales and Australia decided to celebrate 100 years of Test rugby between the two countries with the establishment of the James Bevan Trophy. It is named after the Australian-born Welsh-raised man who was the first ever captain of the Wales rugby team. The prize will be up for grabs for the first time in the forthcoming series in Australia, with the first Test on 26 May and the second on 2 June.