So far since the friendlies in august all wales games have been an
"off-game" and "will improve". This they have failed to do. We simply
arent playing at the level we were when we beat SA in the summer and France
in the 5 nations. We are playing a lot tighter, score and create a lot less
From watching some games, it seems some individuals in the team are just
coasting, assured of their first team place with no need to work hard to
keep it. A lot more individual-performances rather than team effort has
been evident in the world cup games too with players more than happy to go
themselves instead of looking for the pass. How many times was an overlap
not used and a greedy center or other player keep the ball only to lose it
in the tackle (Samoa and Australia had a few great examples of this). Scott
Gibbs has done this, as have other runners over the last few games.
Wales' style of play is also predictable now and hence, easy to defence.
Whereas in the 5N games this season we show little flair and/or imagination
and rely almost totally on the crash ball through the middle (which rarely
works against good teams). In the previous games, Gibbs,Quinell, and others
make breaks and instead of spreading the ball just try to run it into the
nearest opposition forward near the tackle area.
We hardly ever, if at all, in games spread the ball wide and quickly across
the field to give the backs a go. Admittedly, wales lack any form of pace
on the wing and this showed in the matches (eg Wales Australia, howarth
breaks to within 10 meters of oz. try line, looks right and gareth thomas is
still outside 22 trying to catch up). Thomas is a good player but maybe at
center, certainly not wing. James is slightly faster but far from
Another problem is the lack of lineout ability, consistently losing their
own throws (is this a problem with the ***, jumper or both!). Also
annoyingly, Wales never contest an opposition lineout. A game like Saturday
when Australia only had 1 real jumped (Eales) at least contesting some
throws keeps the pressure on even if you dont win it. A good tactical kick
into opponents half is wasted if you are guaranteed to lose the ball at the
Wales also rely too much on Jenkins, admittedly, he is a good kicker but as
a all-round fly-half poor. He stands too flat, nearly always gets flattened
before he can get a kick or pass away and is never likely to break through.
Maybe standing 5ft or so further back to buy some time would help.
In short, wales need to go out and regroup, work out what was lacking
recently that they had last sesaon. Maybe a problem with over-confidence
that dropping some players for a few games may help. I cant beleive all
Gibbs can do is run at someone, surely he can pass and run at angles once in
a while ! This is not just a criticism of him, other players are just as
Australia thouroughly deserved their win but the 17 - 9 scoreline was more
realistic than the final one with that very dubious try (knocked forward and
gregan didnt ground it anyway!). Referee also didnt seem aware of the
offside rule at times. This didnt favour any team but Australia realised
and adapted to this whereas wales never did.
Anyway, Wales are out, England are out so i can now be neutral in this
tournament and watch good rugby (i hope !) without any sort of involvement
BTW, anyone think ITVs commentry for england game today was the most biased
Cardiff, South Wales
PGP on request