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Blood, guts and old-fashioned Six Nations thunder

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Tom Fordyce | 23:40 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

If you wanted a Valentine's Day of love and hugs and holding hands, you should have stayed well clear of Cardiff.

Wales' narrow, nerve-wracking win over England was not for faint hearts and fans of fluffy toys. This was brutal, bruising stuff, engrossing and exciting, thunderous and thrilling.

It was a match that dragged you to the edge of your seat, made you wince with empathetic pain and left you wondering which way it would go right until the final five minutes.

In the tunnel afterwards, the players were limping, grimacing and bleeding. It was as romantic as an A&E department.

No-one in a red shirt cared. After a record-equalling eighth successive Six Nations win, the old foe vanquished for a fourth time in five years, the Welsh players could live with their war-wounds. For England, vastly improved on seven days ago, everything hurt just a little bit more.

With this Welsh team, the plaudits are generally handed out to the flair players, the orange-legged wizards in the backs.

Saturday, by contrast, was all about the lumps up front. Gethin Jenkins is only slightly less likely to use a set of hair-straighteners than Mike Tindall, but his performance at the Millennium Stadium was as impressive as anything Lee Byrne and the glamour-boys have produced in the last 12 months.

So ever-present was he in the contact zone that you suspected he may have been cloned. So indefatigable was he in the tackle that you half expected to look out at the pitch three hours after the match and see him smashing the groundstaff into the stands.

Andy Powell wasn't far behind. Watching him crash into walls of defenders with relentless relish - in just 60 minutes on the pitch, he made almost half as many carries again as any other man - you wonder whether he actually enjoys the sensation of pain.

It was to England's considerable credit that they refused to yield. In Joe Worsley they had a man who drew a line in the turf and refused to let a Welshman past.

Worsley tenderised Jamie Roberts time and time again. In the battle with fellow campaign veteran Martyn Williams he came out with honour intact.

"Shaun Edwards said at half-time, 'We're in a battle here,'" said Wales coach Warren Gatland, drolly, afterwards.

"Did he?" said Williams. "I can't remember. I was blowing too much."

"The collisions with Joe and Andy - that's what's rugby all about, " Edwards added, with happiness written all over his battered features.


What let England down, once again, was their discipline. While they played with bucketloads more spirit and style than in the turgid opener against Italy, and were within a converted try of taking the lead with 20 minutes still to go and ball in hand, it was not enough to satisfy coach Martin Johnson.

"I'm not into moral victories," he said darkly. "I want to win games.

"We had a chance - we definitely had a chance. These are special games. They only come round every two years, and you don't get to play many, and we let one slip by."

Winning in Cardiff was always going to be an uphill struggle for England. By shipping nine needless points early on, they made the climb steeper. And when Andy Goode was yellow-carded at the start of the second half, Wales scored the 11 points that ultimately sealed the game for them.

In their last three games, England have now lost eight players to the sin-bin. In the first 15 minutes on Saturday alone, they conceded six penalties. For a quarter of the match they were forced to play with a man down.

As Ryan Jones said afterwards, "We knew that if we posed questions of them mentally and physically, they would crack, and we could take the advantage."

Johnson was clearly not happy about the number of penalties awarded against his side. The old warrior referred to a "perception issue" between England and referees, with a "self-perpetuating" disciplinary record.

At the same time, he refused to exonerate his sinners entirely.

"We have to sort it out," he rumbled. "We need to end it. We've said it for the last two games, but it keeps letting us down. We have to be whiter than white. They kicked 18 points from penalties, and that's hard to overcome."

As in any good match, the momentum swung one way then the other. Twice England looked at out it, only for Paul Sackey's chase-through try to haul them back to 9-8 at the break and Delon Armitage's scintillating break to make it 20-15 with time to burn.

The 2009 Welsh team, however, is not for panicking. As in Dublin last year, they absorbed an unholy pile of late pressure and possession with the calm authority of true champions.

"You'll never be in the ascendancy all game," said skipper Jones. "You have to make sure that when you're on the way down, you don't go too far."

This victory gave the thousands of Wales fans streaming out into St Mary Street something to sing sweet harmonies about all night long.

It brings the two countries level at 53 wins apiece in their long-running battle, made it three on the bounce for Wales over England for the first time in 20 years and brought a second successive Grand Slam a significant stride closer.

It also confirms that the side continues to improve. Last week they won without captain and star centre; this week without talismanic record try-scorer, and in a battle that could easily have been lost.

"We posed the question at half-time - is there any more we can give?" said Jones. "The way we started and finished the second half proved that this is a side that works harder than last year.

"The way the boys train, the way they prepare, we felt there was another gear in us. There's a big heart in this team."

England will travel to Ireland encouraged but chastened. Wales go to France with wind in their sails and history within their grasp.


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  • 1. At 00:13am on 15 Feb 2009, Ian B wrote:

    A great game, with fantastic physical confrontations all over the pitch. Could have gone either way, and with better goal kicking from England would have ended as an absolute thriller. Can't imagine that Johnny Wilkinson (as of 2000-2003 era) would have missed either the conversion or late penalty - five points given away that would have given the last 10 minutes a different complexion.

    The difference was really that this Welsh team understood how to win this game, by withstanding England's pressure late on.

    Worsley deservingly man of the match - not a conventional #7 performance but immense in the tackle, taking everything Roberts and Powell threw at him. Pity for him it was in vain.

    Flutey is starting to look a really good inside centre - now we just need players to understand how to provide supprt for him.

    Gethin Jenkins must have booked himself a Lions shirt. So much ground covered for a big lump, so many tackles made and yet still held his own in the set piece.

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  • 2. At 00:20am on 15 Feb 2009, WaihekeJack wrote:

    Good article Tom and a fair appraisal of the game. Couldn't fault the commitment from England but Wales just had that little bit extra. Gethin Jenkins was my man of the match by a mile. Scrum was rock solid and yet he was like a fourth back row forward smashing the English in the tackle time and time again, clearing rucks and taking the ball up. In short he was phenomenonal.

    What pleased me as a Welshman was how well the front 5 played. Lineout faultless, kick-offs handled well and overall solid platform.

    For England thought Worsley had a great game tackling and a number of backs showed some nice touches.

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  • 3. At 00:27am on 15 Feb 2009, Gareth wrote:

    Very enjoyable game. England much improved, good to see Wales can win even when plan A is countered so effectively by Worsely et al.

    Only dissapointment was to hear Jonno interviewed after the game imply that the referee was to blame for England's high penalty count and 2 yellow cards. I thought Kaplan had a very good and fair game, and the better team won.

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  • 4. At 00:44am on 15 Feb 2009, gwentgav86 wrote:

    As a Welshmen i wasn't surprised at all by the nature of the game...England are always going to be a physical presence due to the nature of the Guinness premiership.

    Im also glad that with a tough trip to Paris ahaead we had a very good examination which will stand Wales in god stead for France as there shouldnt be any complacency (excuse spelling).

    My only worry is that for a side who is on top of their game and who have aspirations of winning the world cup could not put more points on a team who going into the match were low on confidence and were down to 14 for 20 minutes of the match.....In Englands accesdancy 2000-2003 they would have smashed us by 50 points....allbeit back then wales were still being dragged into the professional era in terms of fitness and physical preparation.

    The other thing that bothered me is the pundits emphasising Englands lack of discipline as a major factor, i agree it cost them hwowever if they had not killed as much ball as they did wales probably would have had another 2 tries and it would have been game over.

    From a Wales perspective i would give Peel a start next game as i thought Phillips looked sluggish getting the ball away from the breakdown.

    To echo the earlier posts i think Jenkins was immense as was Wyn Jones.

    I thought Worsely was awsome as well and if he continues to play as well throughout the tournament could put him in the lions frame as well as Sackey who clearly i felt was the best winger on the park today.

    Putting my lions cap on for a minute just watched highlights of the super 14 opening weekend and all the SA sides ook sharp...however there southern hemsphere presenter took a swipe at our nothern hemisphere game stating that there were '44 tries scored in the opening weekend of the super 14' blah blah blah...i cant wait till us Brits get down there and stick it up the Boks

    C'mon the LIONS

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  • 5. At 00:44am on 15 Feb 2009, gwentgav86 wrote:

    excuse me how non pc of me Brits and Irish get down there

    C'mon the lions!

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  • 6. At 00:53am on 15 Feb 2009, garanty wrote:

    As a Welsh fan - I'm ashamed to say the referee handed it to us on a plate.
    Goode's and Tindall's sin binning were absolutely appalling decisions - that spoiled the game.
    We got away with persistent offside and were lucky not to be punished.

    Without Shane Williams - we looked impotent - with very few attacking options that could actually penetrate a decent defence.

    I fear for us, facing either Ireland or France. We will simply be torn to pieces.

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  • 7. At 01:03am on 15 Feb 2009, gwentgav86 wrote:

    i wouldnt go that far england gave away three penalties in the first 5 minutes and then they were warned....if they had infringed 3 times in the first 20 minutes they would still have been warned ergo tindall had to go. everyone on 606 s slagging the ref but he played to the letter of the law.....they are saying he didnt do the same to wales....thats because wales first infringed with hands in until about 60 mins in....hence why england scored through delon armitage (they had space because wales didnt slow the ball down!) at the end of the day after that try england didnt realy look like scoring again and it was good that we saw the game out in the rite areas of the pitch.....but the end of the day u cnt blame the ref for losing a game!

    i cant say we were offside that much maybe a couple of times but thats the line u play on...i think england were slowing the ball down illlegally more than they got pinged for but its rugby and u play on the limit of the rules sometimes beyond if u can get away with it.

    we didnt look impotent. Worsley did a fantastic job at stopping Roberts yet we still froced three penalties in the first 10-15 thats from attacking play?!?! it was weird it reminded me today of how england played in the early 2000's big defence play in right areas kick the goals.....oh and for anyone citing the fact that england missed 4 kicks at goal wales missed 2 as well so you cant realy use that as an excuse either.....still an entertaining game!

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  • 8. At 02:27am on 15 Feb 2009, sleepywesto wrote:

    First off that was an awesome game and all credit to Wales on the victory.

    England's regular infringements cost them a potential win and Jonathan Kaplan's calls in that department were right. However, I can see where Martin Johnson is coming from. Whilst England were guilty of repeated offenses, it does seem that because they have built a reputation for this, that there is a tendency for them to be the only team scrutinised at the breakdown. Bottom line though is that England need to cut these violations down.

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  • 9. At 03:11am on 15 Feb 2009, chocl8rain wrote:

    great game, just went to show the arrogant welshman are far overrated and the fact that they nearly lost to a rubbish england side proves it. gatland was almost silenced after he spent the whole week saying how awful england are, maybe he should keep his cocky mouth shut before they play a good ireland/french team.
    that is all.

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  • 10. At 03:40am on 15 Feb 2009, alexsimon89 wrote:

    Ah but chocl8rain the point is that the Welsh didn't lose. They still managed to beat the English when their normal style of play had been cut off. That's the sign of a very good side. In any sport, the best sides win when being forced to play an unfamiliar game.

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  • 11. At 05:02am on 15 Feb 2009, Toby wrote:

    Ok lets take a deep breath here. First of all, Wales are becoming a very good side. As a few posters have pointed out England disrupted Wales usual attacking game-plan (and credit England, the coaches and the players for that) yet Wales still found a way to win the match and it was never in too much doubt, so credit where credit is due. However, those saying the Gatland didnt play a part are mistaken. England seem to get excessively punished through yellow cards for infringement at the breakdown and Byrne's tackle in the air on Armitage would have been a yellow if committed by a player in white. The better side won but MJ has a point when he says that refs are quicker to produce cards against England than other teams.

    All in all as an England fan it was miles better than last week against Italy and a number of players put down markers for their shirts. Armitage was England MOM and Worsely was excellent. Enlgand looked far more threatening with Flood and Tait on the pitch and I'd like to see them start next week. England arent going to win the 6 nations this year so its about begining to build a team that can be succesful in the future.

    Anyhoo, that's my thoughts. Good luck Wales for the GS. You're the best side in the Northern hemisphere at the mo and if you continue to play an exciting brand of rugby you deserve to win this year. Hopefully England can learn and build on this performance next week.

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  • 12. At 05:04am on 15 Feb 2009, Toby wrote:

    ps, good article Tom.

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  • 13. At 05:44am on 15 Feb 2009, Bigbern1 wrote:

    First of all, congratulations to the Welsh a sign of a good team is winning even when your opposition wins the tactical battle. Well done England for really showing character this week and producing a very good tactical show. Yes England were huge underdogs but you cannot expect large margins of victory all the time. Test rugby has rarely produced these types of margins amongst the top teams and the Welsh gritty victory was overall deserved. Winning ugly! It worked well for England.

    England can move on now, discipline and execution needs to be sorted but they will have a better idea of who can and cannot make it at this level. They have shown that they have the players to impose their own strategy and negate the opposition tactics. I remain unconvinced that they have the skills to pose a true threat with ball in hand. Good use of replacements by MJ.

    Wales, i cannot help think that despite being a good team, the general lack of quality in the 6N recently has exagerated Wales' ability. There has ben no 6N team in the top 3 IRB rankings for a while whereas not too long ago there were two. Nevertheless Wales is an exciting team in progress.

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  • 14. At 07:04am on 15 Feb 2009, Ron666 wrote:

    "great game, just went to show the arrogant welshman are far overrated "

    That's rich coming from an Englishman. Remind me again, who was it who were talking about leaving the Six Nations and joining the Tri-Nations a few years ago? Apparently the rest of us were never going to be good enough to give them a decent game . It wasn't England by any chance, was it?

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  • 15. At 07:09am on 15 Feb 2009, Rob Smiley wrote:

    I have to agree that Kaplan had an awful game. Only too happy to flash the yellow in English faces without giving Welsh infringements a second glance. Steve Jones' cynical and vindictive fall ontop of Sakey after his try, and whoever it was (can't recall now) who took out Goode a clear 2 seconds after the kick-through leading up to the try... both were worthy of yellow, but not so much as a twitch from the ref.

    Just before Tindal's yellow, I thought the ref was actually reaching into his pocket for the welsh player tackling a man off the ball 3 yards offside... and it might have been caught if the ref wasn't intent on penalising England's very next infringement at the breakdown which, inevitably, was only seconds away.

    Johno's right, England as a unit have to get their act together and play whiter than white for a couple of years now, just to level the perceptions of officials.

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  • 16. At 08:16am on 15 Feb 2009, roddersrugbyref wrote:

    Kaplan had an absolute stinker. As a ref I watch his behaviour more than most and would point out the following.
    1. Warning a side after 5 mins you are going to yellow someone ater the next penalty is putting you in a corner. No early penalty was in the red zone, and he should talk at the team not to them at this stage.
    2. If you are going to take this stance, it must be consistant. Wales comitted 9 penalties to 13 throughout the game (if I counted correctly), yet did not receive a card.
    3. Scrum management was appaling. Wales consistantly dropped the scrum on their tight side on their ball to prevent a push, and on England ball he walked round the scrum with Martyn Williams on more than one occasion, whilst the ball was still in. No binding call
    4. Positioning. On a number of occasions he put himself in the defensive line at an England ruck, and let the Welsh defence walk up offside, to the extent he had to walk forward to see the ball!
    5.Forward passes, quite a few. Halfpennys try started with one (before Goode was binned), and finished with a huge one. Kapland thought it was forward and looked to his TJ. Why not take a replay. Look at the reaction of Kapland and players in the backfield on the TV feed.
    6.Alan Wynn Jones. Does this man know where the offside line is? Every ruck he comes in through the side and fringes round offside. He consistently stands offside at breakdowns, and Kapland never pinged him. If he had Wales penalty count would have been higher than Englands.

    I have waited till this morning to vent my spleen, but in the cold light of day, I still feel Kapland is guilty of prejudging a game, and doing his best to justify this.

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  • 17. At 08:23am on 15 Feb 2009, Ron666 wrote:

    I see the English are just as gracious in defeat as they used to be in victory. What will the excuse be when you get thrashed in Dublin? The referee again, or will you think of something new?

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  • 18. At 08:35am on 15 Feb 2009, Droxydre wrote:

    I agree Ron666. If England had been thrashed they wouldn't be complaining so much.
    I think Lee Byrne was lucky after the air tackle. Great boot, though and still Lions 15 despite Armitage's good game.
    Why substitute Sackey? Shane was definitely missed in attack but mark Jones defended well. He was just skinned by a quicker Sackey. Great game whatever the result. Good result, though.

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  • 19. At 08:46am on 15 Feb 2009, cs15hammer wrote:

    usual Welsh response of 'excuses, excuses' which can be ignored as the lazy response it is. Anyone can see the ref had pre-ordained blinkers on and head turned by the media and home crowd into stamping on England. He warned England about yellow cards for persistent fouling far too early. If the ref had a stinker it will be said, because its not an excuse but totally relevant to the discussion of the match because eveytime England threatened serious momentum, and England's challenge was pretty serious in this game, the ref would knock them back. I am more than capable of saying England played a stinker, and have on a number of occasions and unfortunately often recently, but this is an occasion to say England played well against a good Welsh team (who themselves didnt have their best day) and the ref was a joke.

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  • 20. At 08:47am on 15 Feb 2009, roddersrugbyref wrote:


    I no point am I saying we should have won, purely that Kapland had a stinker, and was in all proability biased against England.

    A number of Welsh posters have also concurred with this view, on this and other blogs.

    However, a major concern must be for England, that if IRB officials are prejudging the opposition, England will have to adopt a no penalty game, which is impossible.

    I hope that you can appreciate my critique on Kapland for what it is.

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  • 21. At 08:53am on 15 Feb 2009, lithgae_lad wrote:

    A much improved England with Worsley leading in defence and Armitage showing a glimpse of where England should be aiming to go in the future with strong defense and attack with pace.

    Listening to the press before the match you would have thought England had been beaten by Italy last week. What a load of nonesense. England and Wales have a history of tight matches even when one side is stronger, which indeed Wales are, and this was never going to be anything other than a nerve tingling game.

    The match stats show the true picture. A dominant Wales with an excellent defensive display by England. With the limited ball they did get England showed they can be dangerous and for the first time in a long time produced some positive attacking rugby led by the newcomer Armitage who is an exciting prospect for the future. He reminded me of Lee Byrne in his approach.

    Several comments here have alluded to the referee and the yellow cards. England do lack discipline and the yellow cards were not for one off incidents but for repeatedly killing the ball and trying to slow Wales distribution down. Without employing this tactic Wales would have won by much more and Worsley must take much of the credit for this. I thought his MoM award was well deserved.

    As for Wales, talk of a Grand Slam is very premature. France in Paris is never a given even if you wear All Black. The Irish also seem to be back.... what a great 6 nations!

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  • 22. At 09:03am on 15 Feb 2009, BeerRugbyBear wrote:

    Tom,Tom,Tom, narrow victory? Sorry mate, I don't think so, we needed a converted try and one more score with 10 minutes to go. We just didn't do it. It wasn't narrow, it was too much, with too many of England's old way saying that 'We should have beat them!'. Well, wake up England, Martin should quit now, and leave his reputation in tact. There is no point talking tough about 'we could have done this, and could have done that, and won', well, I could have predicted all the correct numbers on the lottery and won, but I didn't. It's disappointing and embarrassing.

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  • 23. At 09:08am on 15 Feb 2009, ivorhughjanus wrote:

    As an englishman I was pleased that england played better than for some time and I enjoyed a thoroughly enthralling game of Rugby as it should be...apart that is from the referee.
    As a former referee i would say that if I was the referees observer for this match Mr. Kaplan would have scored around three out of ten, he was so intent on watching england that he missed or disregarded continuous offsides by wales, and several more serious incidents.
    this said however if england had not earned the reputation that they have it would not have been an issue.
    Finally after my mini rant Well Done Wales I did not think that you showed much in the Scotland game but you proved today that you can take the pressure, regroup and play on Good luck in france.

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  • 24. At 09:11am on 15 Feb 2009, Englishman in Strasbourg wrote:

    When I saw Kaplan on the sheet for the game, I knew England would lose. I don't think he's a bad ref - but he has won a reputation for liking a fast running game - which means any attempt to slow down the ball will result in penalties. Which is exactly the sort of game Wales wanted and England would have known this. So there can be no excuses for the yellow cards.

    With the ELVs in place, there aren't many alternatives - England must learn to open up and play some fast paced expressive rugby, which they are entirely capable of. They have to get used to the idea that the old style forwards dominated encounters are being consigned to history. Like it or not.

    (Not - in my case, but maybe I'm nostalgic)

    Are England good enough to beat Ireland? Absolutely, but they must show a little more confidence, keep ball in hand, and make sure that it's the Irish pack who fall into the yellow-card trap.

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  • 25. At 09:12am on 15 Feb 2009, russdj wrote:

    The ref didn't have a bad game, ive seen far worse. England are just making excuses. It just shows how far England have fallen that they are so happy at only loosing by 8 points against Wales, they were world cup finalists 15 months ago!! Think Worsley was picked out to be MoM before the game, only made a few tackles on a centre, big deal, he didnt do anything else. One more thing, I couldnt stand Brian Moores biased commentry on the game, really irritating, he sounded more like a fan than a commentator, really unprofessional. Wales played well in patches but need a little bit more magic, looking forward to the return of Henson and Williams who will provide it.

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  • 26. At 09:13am on 15 Feb 2009, BeerRugbyBear wrote:

    ...oops, forgot to add, as always you have written a good article :)

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  • 27. At 09:26am on 15 Feb 2009, haydn_davies wrote:

    Why can't the english fans see that england have been slowing balls down at the breakdown for years!! This isn't something new - it's from the Johnson era!! It's just that now with the ELV's refs are picking up on it more. England nead to realise that they have got to let the ball go, if not it will be a penalty, a try at the worst. If Goode had not slowed the ball down it would have almost been a definite try for Wales as england were at sixes and sevens. Just another comment - I cannot stand Brian Moores commentary for the BBC so one sided towards the English - it was almost as if he was talking to Martin Johnson throughout the game, so unprofessional Brian. If you do not like the decisions the referee makes maybe you shouldn't be in the commentary box!!

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  • 28. At 09:30am on 15 Feb 2009, Go_On_Mog wrote:

    Wow What a game, For me yesterday just confirmed what we already know, International rugby is the mutts nutts. I threw up twice through sheer terror and panic, well done England, they were brilliant! playing with real pride and skill, I was very disappointed with Johnsons comments after the game though, what was he on about? only interested in winning? If England invest in yesterdays performance and continue to adapt their game with the new generation coming through it won't be too long before they start thumping sides again. They should stop l;ooking for quick wins and stop worrying about losing games, concentrate on the performance and the victories will come.

    As for Wales, the halfbacks should be dropped, Mike Phillips looks sloppy and struggles to get the ball away from rucks, and stephen jones is as dynamic as a paving-stone! The french back-row will have these two for breakfast, get HOOK on the bl00dy pitch he is without doubt the best 10 in world rugby why are we persisting with the perpetual bottler Jones?

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  • 29. At 09:32am on 15 Feb 2009, meltonism2 wrote:

    Like some of the posters I have waited until the morning to comment. Firstly I am English so my opinion is obviously biased although I try not to be.
    Congrats to the Welsh, I thought that they were marginally the better team as the score suggests and I think if Borthwick would have gone for the try and not the kick when we were a few yards out and the score would have been cut to 1 point the Welsh would have creaked. But we will never know.
    Most of the points have already been made by previous posters but here are few to ponder.
    1. Have England created this Aura of being dirty and therefore Refs are actively looking to penalise us? I think that is the case. But in fairness we have created this situation so we must deal with it.
    2. With a World cup in mind how much can Wales improve? 10-20%? They are just about playing they're best now. England 60 - 70% So in 2011 who will go out in the quarters as usual?
    3. Perhaps more worryingly for Wales. Correct me if I'm wrong but so far after 2 games in this years 6 Nations. Have they scored a try against 15 men? In these games they couldn't score until England and Scotland had men yellow carded. So much for the much vaunted "Best 3's in the Northern Hemisphere"
    4. By the way the Welsh reacted to the win is this the summit of their ambition? this should be a stepping stone to greater things not the summit of all their achievements. That is why they will never get to a WC final never mind winning it.

    No in the cold light of day as an Englishman I am very happy that we seem to be moving forwards. No we won't win the 6 Nations but are definately moving in the right direction

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  • 30. At 09:37am on 15 Feb 2009, Cherry Wolf wrote:

    I've seen Kaplan dominate/ruin too many games, too often.

    Sporting cliche #127, a good official is one you don't notice - well he certainly gets my attention every time. Saw him ruin a Gloucester - London Irish game 3 years ago, the players were so frustrated at his officiating that the game nearly degenerated into a mass brawl.

    He came into this game with it clearly in his mind that England were going to play in a certain way. As I've said other other threads, I've no problem with the yellow cards handed out. But it's the complete lack of consistency with regards penalising Wales the same way that is so annoying. Late on in the game, the penalty that Flood missed with 5 minutes to go - why wasn't the Welsh player binned for doing exactly what Tindall and Goode had done? It wasn't as if it was the first time they'd been penalised.

    I'm also trying to remember the last time I didn't see a player binned for taking out another player in mid-air, but of course Byrne gets away with it. Needless to say, the next England player to commit that offence will probably see the ref brandishing the yellow card before the other player's hit the ground.

    I knew Wales would win, but considering how poor we're told England are, may be they aren't as good as they'd like to think they are. No chance whatsoever of winning the next World Cup.

    And Ron666, considering the good grace with which Wales fans taking winning and losing, you clearly don't get the concept of irony, do you????

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  • 31. At 09:39am on 15 Feb 2009, Go_On_Mog wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 32. At 09:47am on 15 Feb 2009, gizmorp wrote:

    Yes we lost against wales but my god we can hold are head up high.
    They were convinced they were go to run us in to the ground , did they no they did not well done england but tied your act up.

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  • 33. At 09:51am on 15 Feb 2009, Go_On_Mog wrote:

    You obviously didn't read the papers before yesterdays game? I can't remember anyone from the welsh camp atating that we were going to run Eng into thwe ground! I do remember Gatts and capn saying how tough the game was going to be though.

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  • 34. At 10:02am on 15 Feb 2009, Rob Smiley wrote:

    As Cherries_4ever points out... you never notice a good ref.

    And as this thread shows, not only did we all notice yesterday's officious (Freudian Slip), nobody's even so much as spelt his name wrong, yet.

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  • 35. At 10:04am on 15 Feb 2009, Go_On_Mog wrote:

    Kipland had a great game.

    I'll enjoy talking to you guys in two weeks....after croke park, we'll see how far Eng have progressed.

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  • 36. At 10:07am on 15 Feb 2009, Rob Smiley wrote:

    Sarky ;o)

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  • 37. At 10:09am on 15 Feb 2009, dcym wrote:

    Great article Tom, and some half decent comments also, unlike the reactionary rubbish over on the 6*6 boards...

    Anyway, great game and happily Wales seemed to have resisted the temptation to read any newspapers or watch any TV during the last week. A hammering of England would have been a freak result - these are pretty much derby games where what goes on in the top 2 inches is as important as anything and where the result is impossible to call.

    Agree that Gethin Jenkins was immense. Following his barnstorming running of 3 or 4 years ago he seems to have become a quieter, though solid performer but one of several vying for a Lions place. Yesterday he certainly rasied his game.

    And of all the prematch psych-out we saw in the build up, well Gatland edges it again. All the talk about decoding the England lineout manifested itself in a game plan that gave Wales virtually no England lineouts to decode. Johnson, on the other hand, with his defensive selection, his comments about Martyn Williams and the request to keep the roof open, set his stall out early enough for all of us, Kaplan included, to realise what England would try to do. Last week, the Twickenham crowd apparently 'spooked' the team, this week, Kaplan apparently handed Wales victory.

    Kaplan was pretty much the first ref to see Ritchie McCaw's 'groundwork' techniques for what it they are and has often whistled him out of a whole game. Whatever you think of Kaplan, trangressing on the floor will get you nowhere, end of. Johnson says that refs have preconceived ideas about some players. Maybe, they are human (I think), but it helps if those preconceptions are not fuelled by your own coach.

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  • 38. At 10:13am on 15 Feb 2009, David wrote:

    I'm a Wales fan, and I thought Kaplan didn't have his greatest game. I was surprised that Byrne didn't get binned for his hit on Armitage in the air, and I think it was Armitage's admirable lack of reaction or fuss that kept Byrne on the field.

    Also, Byrne's pass to Halfpenny for the try was flat at best.

    Tindall's card was just silly play from England. If you've already been warned by the ref, killing the ball AGAIN 3 minutes later is only going to have one result. I agree with a previous poster though, Kaplan had backed himself into a corner by warning Borthwick early on, and he really had no choice.

    Goode's yellow was a definite binning for me. If that ball had been recycled quickly, a try was a very real possibility with England's defence splintered.

    England have got a reputation as a dirty team now, and it's going to take a while to lose it. 8 cards in three tests now, and not all of those were reffed by Kaplan.

    Great game though, exciting and absorbing from beginning to end. Let's hope both teams can push on from here and have a good remainder of the championship.

    PS Tom, another great article.

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  • 39. At 10:16am on 15 Feb 2009, welshwizard5 wrote:

    Got to laugh at some comments being made about Kaplan. One idiot says Goode was taken out "a full 2 seconds after he kicked the ball leading to Sackey's try". Two seconds?? Watch it again and get the stopwatch on it. Not even one second!! And surely, even if there was an offence (there wasn't) he played an excellent advantage and you got the try??

    Byrne was lucky to escape a yellow for the tackle on Armitage. As for the two yellows, he had warned England about slowing the ball down and he took action on the next offender each time.

    As for it being a "narrow" win, it was by two scores.

    What does the future hold? Well Wales can improve and England have to. England have to get their gameplan to embrace the ELV's.

    But Wales did well to overcome the favourites tag and considering England has ten times the number of rugby clubs than Wales has, it wasn't a bad day.......

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  • 40. At 10:22am on 15 Feb 2009, Rob Smiley wrote:

    Nobody's saying England were faultless, far from it. There were silly infringements, and they should really have gotten the message when Kaplan issued his warning as early as he did.

    What's annoyed England fans, me among them, is that Kaplan then ignored a lot of Welsh infringements... some of which were quite blatant and cynical... with the result that Wales were offside too often, tackled too early, causing more breakdown situations for England to get caught out in.

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  • 41. At 10:23am on 15 Feb 2009, welshwizard5 wrote:

    It's just too easy to blame the ref though isn't it?

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  • 42. At 10:32am on 15 Feb 2009, Rob Smiley wrote:

    Welshwizard... call me what you like, then go back and watch it yourself and be honest. If an England player had done that to a Welsh kicker, you'd be screaming for a 3 match ban, never mind a yellow.

    Grow up.

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  • 43. At 10:38am on 15 Feb 2009, onionbhaji1984 wrote:

    A really good game. England played well but beaten by a superior Welsh team. I'm not sure I agree that the ref had a bad game as England's offences were the by-product of Welsh pressure. The first card was maybe a little premature but under pressure, England in the first 20 mins had to resort to giving penalites that with hindsight were stupid to give away. On balance England's performance has given us many positives to move forward with but the lack of discipline needs to be addressed.

    Armitage played well and looked solid under the high ball and Ellis won the scrum half battle. Goode played well with vision (when he decided not top hoof it) just a pity his kicking at goal was poor again. Worsley was immense in the tackle and Kennedy was again good in the line out. Tindall and Cueto have added much needee experience to the back line and Flutey has shown some nice touches and breaks. Most encouragingly England produced quick ball (though not enough) at the breakdown.

    Wales on the other hand were not at their scintilating best. England managed to slow them down and disrupt Williams/Phillips/Jones. However Wales rarely looked in trouble, Powell again took the ball forward well, Wyn Jones is proving an excellent player, a shoe-in for the Lions surely, and Gethin Jenkins is currrently one of the best front rowers in the world. Wales are just an outside centre short of having a truely excellent team.

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  • 44. At 10:46am on 15 Feb 2009, Andy wrote:

    Easy to blame the ref; he seemd to have a bad game and be biased against England. Although England gave him too much opportunity to take that position.

    Wales looked a good side; when England were defensive; and an average side when England ran at them.

    England look as though they could have a great attacking side - if they would try to do it.

    Not sure that Goode is the right man for the job; not bad, but kicking didn't work and not quite enough pace. However I can't see anybody better at the moment.

    Keep the side together and tell them to keep playing Rugby and to attack more.

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  • 45. At 10:52am on 15 Feb 2009, vcxpat wrote:

    New to bloggs but here goes:-

    Caplan has not reffed englands other recent games wher they have had penalties sin bins galore.

    If you cant play whiter than white against a team as poor as the Italians were last saturday, then there is a serious structural problem in the way you play.

    Caplan did spend a lot of time looking for england slowing down the ball yesterday. It could have something to do with fact that Martin johnson had spent the week before telling the world that was exactly what they intended to do.

    Strong performance by england, they were never going to be poor against us at cardiff.

    Positive for wales is that we found a way to win despite having our main weapons either missing (williams/ henson et all) or so effectivley blunted by the opposition (powell and roberts).

    Our line out showed a big improvement. that was percieved as a major weakness.

    As for the penalties, concious decisions on behalf of defending team to slow the ball down rather than give quick ball against a disorganised defensive line. Sometimes it works and you get away wtih it. Yesterday England did'nt get away with.

    With the Lions in mind it is good to see England playing well again. We will need as many players going as well as they can for the summer.

    Welsh arrogance, well maybe a little, but it has to be said with all the talk a few years back about England france needing to be scheduled as the last game every year coz that would be the decider and then england joining the tri nations coz the rest of us werent good enough.........Sorry england fans but some of you did set yourself up for a bit of a fall from grace.

    If all our injuries are sorted should be a stron welsh bench against the french in a fortnight

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  • 46. At 10:54am on 15 Feb 2009, Oicsdontexist wrote:

    English fans there is no point in discussing the merits of kaplans reffing when you have (most of) the pathetic welsh blinkered boys on the blog.

    All I can suggest is they all take a look at the last 8 mins again (see BBCi) from the time Ryan Jones gave away the pen for lying on the wrong side in their 22 with us pushing for another try!! Surprise surprise no yellow.

    Jonathan Davies commented on that. Should have been Captain off and game on. Instead he stayed and Kaplan then gave 4 yes FOUR more consecutive decisions unfairly in Wales' favour one of which Eddie Butler pointed out not spotting where they were 2 yes TWO metres offside and resulted ultimately in the two score difference.

    I am gratified that there are a couple of welsh fans here who have acknowledged Kaplans poor performance reffin only one side. I rest easy that wales wont get such preferential treatment when england are not the opposition (cmon Ireland).

    How can anybody possibly diss englands rwc success as being based on a lucky route to the final?! Because they forget the 14 consecutive home and away successes against SH teams leading up to it. SCW decided v early on that we should measure ourselves against them which resulted in us being no 1 in the world for 2+ years. For wales the stereophonics 'as long as we beat the english' mentality is alive and kicking I'm delighted to say. We all know about Wales dreadful record against the big 3!! 2 consecutive grand slams big deal (if it happens).

    ps the 'you've got twice as many teams in england than us' chestnut too! what a surprise an ill-informed so-called celt. our player base has contracted considerably whereas wales' had expanded. even so cant remember the last time a kiwi threw that one into the mix. Oh yes - never

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  • 47. At 10:56am on 15 Feb 2009, Sbaggo wrote:

    I have to agree with most of the posters that I thought it was a great game - albeit it a little predictable. If you take away the ferocity and battle and looked at the gameplan it was exactly how most of us imagined it would be:

    'Wales attacking and England looking to spoil and counter if possible.'

    I agree that joe worsley and gethin Jenkins were outstanding - a real World Class effort from two of the bigger men on the park. I though Goode played well, until the yellow, but that was his only real option or 7 points would have been made instead of three - not his fault, but he had to take 10 for it.

    Kaplan had his inconsistencies, but I do believe he was justified for the majority of decisions, england tried to spoil the game and were punished. Enlgand's only downfall after a heroic performance was trying to play an England game against a running Wales team and a ref that likes open rugby. If england had been a better team, they may have been able to change their gameplan to suit the game (for the win and the ref), but they simply don't have enough class or experience in the team just yet. Better teams have more options...

    Wales on the other hand, are becoming a real world class outfit and showed us another string to their bow - or should I say armour. They played with flair at times, but more importantly, brute force that 3 or 4 years ago simply did not exist. They have changed their mindset and have become as ferocious as their larger neighbours.

    I just wanted to go back to kaplan's contribution - yes he did warn england, and maybe things seemed harsh, but the players have to note that they were warned - vickery was constantly warned about his scrummaging, brothwick was told to talk to his players (he didn't) - yellow cards were inevitable - because england could not play any other game. they scored two great break-away tries, it has to be said, and I was impressed, but Wales always looked like scoring - it was the spoiling mentality that kept the game close - hard defending, and try saving illegalities. Sorry to the england posters on this blog, but until you get some more options, this is how the game will be suffering for you for now.

    well played wales - I enjoyed the skill and power, plenty of Lion representation in the squad.

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  • 48. At 11:06am on 15 Feb 2009, dyo666c wrote:

    All good positive stuff from a great test match - a credit to both teams for putting on a great spectacle for Northern hemisphere rugby.
    As a Welshman, I was proud to see at the start that both National anthems were conducted with respect and I heard no adverse booing from the 75,000 crowd.

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  • 49. At 11:09am on 15 Feb 2009, welshwizard5 wrote:

    Great to see the fish are biting!!

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  • 50. At 11:09am on 15 Feb 2009, Sbaggo wrote:

    Oicsdontexist - Borthwicks haymaker? Vickery constantly rolling and not square in the scrum, Goode holding on to take 3 points instead of 7 - it could have been worse and back to back Grand Slams - are not to be laughed at - you should behave yourself a little bit...

    Other points you've made:
    I'm not bothered about england as an 'old enemy' - we're gunning for bigger fish now, and even though it may take some more time at least we're on the way with it.
    'Twice as many teams' - again, I don't care about the stats or 'we're only a small nation' - I simply watched the game and move on to the next, the game was excellent, no excuses - no complaining, played 2 won 2. If I were you, I'd concern myself with a very good irish team in two weeks...

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  • 51. At 11:10am on 15 Feb 2009, daz8071 wrote:

    Go-On_Mog. How can you expect to be taken seriously when you statethat without a doubt James Hook is the best 10 in world rugby? LOL

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  • 52. At 11:12am on 15 Feb 2009, Foreignfox wrote:

    I was very surprised after the Twickenham game that there were no Welsh yellow cards for the two take outs of English players jumping to catch the ball. I thought it was a tough game that could of gone either way, but my blood boils at the inconsistancy (rather than bias ) of the refs.

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  • 53. At 11:12am on 15 Feb 2009, Ryushinku wrote:

    Disappointed we couldn't quite pull it off but, considering England were supposed to get battered up and down the pitch according to the Welsh fans, a hard-fought loss is better than expected.

    The discipline problem is really killing our chances though, no doubt at all.

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  • 54. At 11:12am on 15 Feb 2009, welshwizard5 wrote:

    RobSmiley, the kick from Goode led to a try. He was NOT tackled two seconds after he kicked it. If you exaggerate to make a point, expect to be picked up on it.

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  • 55. At 11:12am on 15 Feb 2009, HarlowJake wrote:

    England tried their hardest to get away with murder on the pitch, with joke inclusions to the scrum, throw-ins to English line-outs and clear pitch offences.

    However, they played far better than last week......but still lost! How many times were we forced to say this about Wales during the 90s?

    Gatland, Edwards, Howley et al. have managed to transform this squad and they deserve major recognition...even with a performance that should rate 6-7/10. They will need to up this against France and Ireland in particular, but they CAN do it so let's see it happen boys and make history with back-to-back Grand Slams!

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  • 56. At 11:29am on 15 Feb 2009, Sbaggo wrote:

    Oicsdontexist - '14 consecutive home and away successes against SH teams leading up to it ' - that's not right fella it was an impressive run - but don't add up wins against the Nh teams and try to sneak them in as wins agsint the SH - I know my stats too and you've been given hidings by the Allblacks not too far before 2003 and certainly plenty after - get your facts right before coming to the post.

    Also, your record against the Allblacks is 18% win ratio adn 38% agaisnt the Austrailians, hardly the stuff of legend - and our ratio is 50% against you, that makes it 50% for you to us - I think you're forgettign yuorself a little. I could go back to the welsh heyday, but there's no need, you may have to reminisce a little to find the resutls you need to be happy.

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  • 57. At 11:36am on 15 Feb 2009, Tom Fordyce wrote:

    Good chat for a Sunday morning as always.

    Wales fans - how you feeling about the trip to Paris? If Gav's fit, are you bringing him back in?

    England - changes for the trip to Dublin? I'd be tempted to go for Flood in place of Goode for starters...

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  • 58. At 11:37am on 15 Feb 2009, mwkeeper wrote:

    I don't understand why Southern Hemisphere refs officiate 6 nations games. They have a totally different interpretation of the laws and are blinkered when it comes to England.

    Wales are a very good side at the moment, but when the opposition are not allowed to compete on equal terms it is an unfair contest. I counted at least 3 occasions where Welsh players should have been sin binned, but the hapless Mr Kaplan did not have that in his game plan. Just like his compatriot in the 2003 RWC final he did his level best to shaft England.

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  • 59. At 11:42am on 15 Feb 2009, David wrote:

    I'm feeling optimistic about the trip to Paris, France looked less than impressive in victory over Scotland yesterday. On the Henson front, I'd still start with the form man (Roberts), with Henson off the bench for the last twenty.

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  • 60. At 11:53am on 15 Feb 2009, cheeky_nffc wrote:

    mwkeeper (comment 58)

    i don't think it's much to do with the ref being from the southern hemisphere,

    they all hate england, england NEVER get the best of the refereeing, and theres only new zealand that are allowed to come in from the side and put their hands in the ruck with impunity.

    the yellow cards were fair enough yesterday (though the pass immediately before goode's looked forward to me)

    england would still have won if not for the schoolboy errors of weak characters.

    though i suspect england will find a way to lose to both the french and the irish, that will probably be the hardest game wales play in this years championship, heres to them winning the grand slam as i'd rather them than either of those two irritating nations

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  • 61. At 11:58am on 15 Feb 2009, alext wrote:

    England seem to be getting a raw deal from referees these days. What's a penalty against most teams seems a yellow card against England.

    And vice versa, in two matches last week yellow cards were given for tackling players in the air. But Bryne only got a penalty for tackling Armitage in the air.

    Consistency please. Goode's sin binning cost England at least 8 points but his offence was a penalty offence.

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  • 62. At 12:05pm on 15 Feb 2009, Lastrequestgringo wrote:

    England played better this week and at twickenham would have won the game, the welsh fans as ever were superb at backing their team.
    I thought the referee had the poorest performance I have seen at test level for many years, he was blind to welsh offsides and only managed to find his yellow card for England when lee byrne should have had 10 mins for taking a man out in the air.

    I think Wales will go on to win a deserved slam, but Ireland will be a tough test and I hope a cracking game.

    glad a few of the English lads put their hands up for the Lions and I thought Joe W was immense in defence.

    England will stuff Scotland and France and give the Irish a stern test as well.

    Awesome few weeks of rugby to whet the appetite for the Lions Tour!

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  • 63. At 12:18pm on 15 Feb 2009, haydn_davies wrote:

    To all the English who say it was a close game yesterday, it was only close for three reasons:
    1. You kept slowing the ball down at the breakdown preventing any kind of flowing rugby by either side.
    2. You bought a flanker in as an extra centre to man-mark Roberts.
    3. You have no confidence in your backs as every time Goode had posession he would hoof it upfield instead of passing it out to the backs, giving possesson back to the Welsh.

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  • 64. At 12:20pm on 15 Feb 2009, haydn_davies wrote:

    P.S. What's going to be the English excuse at Croke Park for 2-3 yellow cards and a 30 point defeat?? Bad refereeing??

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  • 65. At 12:21pm on 15 Feb 2009, Robcymru wrote:

    Great game, Wales were average, England played well, wales won by 2 scores - QED

    Wales have been awful for long patches of last 25 years and funnily enough we gave away loads of penalties, had players sent off a-plenty and moaned about the referees constantly

    Spot the theme?

    England have some execptionally talented, young, individual players - Cipriani, Haskell, Armitrage but England do not play as a team (unlike Wales since Gatland-Edwards arrived). Johnson and his Leicester chums are England's problem to improving. Rob Andrew's get out of gaol card, the people's choice, Johnno is a 3rd rate coach

    Long may he continue in situ

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  • 66. At 12:24pm on 15 Feb 2009, gwentgav86 wrote:

    'Wales, i cannot help think that despite being a good team, the general lack of quality in the 6N recently has exagerated Wales' ability. There has ben no 6N team in the top 3 IRB rankings for a while whereas not too long ago there were two. Nevertheless Wales is an exciting team in progress.'

    First of al name the two 6N teams in the top 3 and when was this?

    Secondly Wales are fourth and beat australia who are third in November!

    Thirdly Wales are only in their second year with Gatland....Sir Clive was there 6 years and had at least 4 years of playing the southern hemisphere teams year in year out which is what Gatland is trying to do....

    I can see where some english people are coming from saying we wont win the world cup....but wales yesterday did what enlgand did pre2003 win ugly! thats how you win world cups. So writing us off so prematurely is a bit naive i feel.

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  • 67. At 12:42pm on 15 Feb 2009, unbeatablebigginge89 wrote:

    first of all was a good game and england were much improved from last week. It was an ok blog but there are a few things i disgree with;
    first andy powell may have made the most carries but he made no ground over the gain line as worsley was always there to tackle him so in effect he didn't really do anything.
    second (see coment 2) are you insane worsley was clearly the best player on the pitch he was always there tackling the ineffective powel and stopping jamie roberts doing his normal runs. i never really saw jenkins doing anything and brian moore was correct when he said "i don't care because i'm right" after the welsh booed when he was announced man of the match.
    thirdly (see coments 2 and 6) waihekejack you are taking absoulte rubbish the ref was appalling biased and gave Wales everything. after he warned england and yes he mayb shud have binned 1 of our players but he never warned wales and just let them get away with everything possible. i remember at one scrum he penalised vickery for not binding properly when jones was doing the exact same thing at the otherside when the ref was there and what did he do nothing, abosulty nothing and as for wales getting an. gwentgav86 i agree with you the ref did give you the game and im not saying that england would have won they may still have lost but the ref should always be fair and unbiased unlike yesterday. but i disagree with one thing that you said in that wales would have scored another two tries as worsley and co would have been able to stop you as the defense of england was much mor inproved.
    i was appalled by some of his decisions and the ones were he just completly ignored most of the welsh infringements.

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  • 68. At 12:42pm on 15 Feb 2009, Markytee wrote:

    I'd go with Henson at 12 and Roberts at 13.....Shanklin put in some good hits and ran strongly, but at other times he just got pulled out of position far too easily.

    As for the comments about Kaplan...

    Martin Johnson stated in the post-match interview that it's difficult for teams away from home, when refs have preconceived ideas. So how about the yellow cards over the previous few internationals, all of which were at 'HQ'?

    I'm impressed with RODDERSRUGBYREF's analysis of Kaplan's game, and wonder why he didn't choose to offer such analysis to the RFU ahead of yesterday. If it's known that Kaplan wants a quick game, why not adapt accordingly. In response to the other points he makes:

    1. I agree that an early warning does place the referee in a corner, but similarly it sets the stall out as to how teams have to play the referee. England didn't, and it cost them. Wales weren't pinged for the first 60 minutes, generally because of better discipline and far greater faith that their defence would hold, and so they didn't annoy Kaplan to the same degree and in the same areas of the field.
    2. Consistence is one thing, but circumstance needs to be considered too. Where did they do it? Had they been warned? Did they, perhaps, have as much knowledge on Kaplan as you seem to, whereas England were clearly clueless on discpline and playing the referee.
    3. As a player you do what you can get away with. Any openside will play as loose from the scrum as they can afford to, and with Vickery getting pinged early on at the scrum, it was always likely that Kaplan would have been looking for further indiscretions. Perhaps not ideal if you're English, but human was an England problem early on, so he was looking for more of the same later.
    4. Any player will steal as many yards as they can. It was a referee's position, you'll recall, that allowed Neil Back to tap the Munster ball into the scrum at Cardiff in the HEC Final. If the referee positioned himself differently, the main difference would be that the indiscretions would be different. You seem to make the assumption that the players bent the rules because Kaplan stood in the wrong place....they'll always bend the rules, wherever the referee stands.
    5. If we start on a discussion of forward passes, then we'd have to take a view that there'd be dozens more scrums per game as there are so many borderline and forward passes these days that we'd be playing stop-start rugby in every game. Kaplan couldn't have referred the try to a TMO as the pass wasn't within the TMO's jurisdiction. If neither he, nor the TJ was able to call it forward, then it wasn't forward.
    6. Alun Wyn Jones, and all of the Wales team, play the game to the level that the referee allows them to play. If he's warned for being offside, he'll adjust his game accordingly. I'd have thought, for a fee, he may even consider helping the English players adapt their game based on how it's refereed.....

    AT HOME to New Zealand, the English had FOUR binned, Nigel Owens (Wales) refereeing. AT HOME to Italy, the English had TWO binned (including James Haskell, AGAIN), with Mark Lawrence (SA) refereeing. AWAY to Wales, they have a further two binned by a Bok referee.....Either England need to carry out more analysis of the refereeing habits of their next match officials, or they need to speak to the official pre-match to set out expectations. Recent stats, however, don't support the notion that the refereeing is a NH/SH interpretation issue, and they certainly suggest that England aren't learning from their mistakes..

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  • 69. At 12:43pm on 15 Feb 2009, AndyRAC wrote:

    The impression is that there is a 'vendetta' against England - if you're going to penalise and send players to the sin-bin - at least be consistent. England get pinged, yet other teams do the same and nothing is done.
    The 2 yellows were extremely harsh, added to the forward pass, which was somehow missed. Oh, sorry, it's in Cardiff.
    England need to carry on from this, and also ask the IRB/Refs, what the problem is - this has been going on since the Autumn. The cards last week were fair - no problem, but a lot of the others have been a joke. As was Alain Rolland yesterday - though he has very few good games.

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  • 70. At 12:43pm on 15 Feb 2009, WeAreTheIndustry wrote:

    good article Tom, dissecting the game very well.

    A few points of interest for me is that yesterday wasn't really too much about the attacking game but the massive defensive games played by both side, joe worsley was everywhere for england, although just pushing roberts either inside or outside a few times may have made him less easier to contain, seeing the one time worsley wasnt man marking him leading up to 1/2p's try.

    Also, whilst scrummaging good was the blindside flanker, surely if possible a slight wheel to allow powell to run in that area and take goode on seems a decent idea?

    As for the Kaplan, yes, even as a welshman I recognize Byrne should've been carded, but for the first 10-15 minutes, you didn't let us play, and if MJ is going to go to the papers and say you're going to slow the game down of course the ref is going to see that and the fact that it was so persistent early on with the ref giving us advantage and/or penalties, yellow cards are inevitable and then the lesson should be learned. It's not like it was just one or two early penalties. It was persistent. And fair play on Kaplan for setting out the markers. But like I said, Byrne should've gone as well.

    Sackey was made to look good by a player returning to rugby after an op and 8 weeks out. So all in all not a bad performance from mark jones, I've never really been too keen on Sackey, other than the try I don't really think he did much - Obviously there was the second chance where if he'd just caught the ball his momentum would've made it try time. But he didn't show as a clinical finisher.

    At the end of the day, you can say as much as you want that the it was the ref's fault that England lost. But when you look at it objectively the chances were there, the two missed kicks, Sackey not finishing. More than enough for an England victory, so although for the now you're all being so crass about the ref's performance, lack of finishing/kicking was the reason that you lost. Alongside persistent fouling 8-)

    Anyway, that's how I saw the match, Worsley and Gethin were MoMs for me.

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  • 71. At 12:48pm on 15 Feb 2009, WeAreTheIndustry wrote:

    goode* not scrummaging good. i didn't turn all caveman.

    Also, just saw the comment before mine, had a good chuckle at that. A 'Vendetta' against England. Brilliant.

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  • 72. At 12:51pm on 15 Feb 2009, BlurtonBorn wrote:

    Brian Moore is not biased!
    Listen again to his commentary again and you will hear him bemoan the lack of skills and direction in the England team. However, he did start to lose patience with Kaplan towards the end. He is an ex-player from the highest echelons of the sport, as both him and Butler were Lions. I would rather listen to both their opinions than the armchair players on this forum. Many (most) English supporters believe that Kaplan arrived with a pre-judged agenda, whereas the Welsh will believe he had a good game. C'est la vie.

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  • 73. At 1:09pm on 15 Feb 2009, leighrichards wrote:

    what is all this i keep reading about france and ireland being 'good teams'!!!! France are a very poor side and struggled to beat a very poor scotland yesterday. Ireland have not even won the championship for over 25 years!

    Neither of these sides should pose too many problems for a wales side playing well.

    Yesterday we did not play well - allowing a very average england side too look half decent. Ignore all this post match hype coming from english pundits about how much 'improved' england are - they were no better yesterday than they have been for the last couple of years.

    In sackey, worsely, goode and flood they have some good players who can cut it at international level but borthwick must be the worst england captain for over 20 years. He is also a very average player

    This is a very limited english side whos only tactic appears to be to try and stop the other side playing - hence all the pens they keep conceding and all the sin bins they suffer.

    Wales should have put 30 points on this england side

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  • 74. At 1:11pm on 15 Feb 2009, demand_equality wrote:

    a major fact highlighted in this game perfectly, was the inconsistancies between northern and southern hemisphere refs!

    kaplan was a disgrace!

    he should sit down with the governing bodies and explain himself for his shambolic performance.
    This game could have been an all time classic, instead it was just as many other games are, ruined by ref decisions which beggar belief.

    - warning england players with less than 6 minutes on the clock?
    - yellow carding tindle for his first offence?
    - missing sackey's constant high tackles
    - the amount of times welsh players played the man when ball had gone (i ran out of fingers counting these in the first half)
    - england came in from the side - penalty, wales came in from the side - nothing given
    - tackling the man, then tackling another player whilst on the floor
    - goodes yellow card? why?
    he tackled the man then got to his feet and tried to play the ball, no ruck called so why the card, it shouldnt have even been a penalty!
    england went down under wales posts, the welsh played the ball on the ground without getting to their feet and england get the put in for a scrum???
    - lost count of the times when wales took the ball into the tackle and it didnt come out, and then got the penalty - have the rules changed in this area? england were penalised for it time and time again!

    exactly how would england have benefitted from collapsing the scrum? (bigger pack, stronger forwards) on all but one occasion when the welsh collapsed the scrum, england were penalised, why?

    its not sour grapes at all, this game could have been talked about for decades, a strong welsh side is great for the game, and england rising to the challenge in the fantastic millenium stadium surroundings, all the ingredients were in the pot, then we get a southern hemisphere ref who destroys it and effects the result by being completely inconsistant, awarding penalties for something then turning a blind eye when the opposing team did the same thing.

    its destroying rugby union and it needs sorting out immeadiately!

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  • 75. At 1:15pm on 15 Feb 2009, Matt wrote:

    cs15hammer sums up my feelings on the matter quite well.

    Great performance from the English lads.

    After last week, I never thought I'd be this proud of the team, especially in defeat.

    The ref was very quick to his pocket and rather inconsistent when taking action against both teams, which actually, in my opinion, is quite funny. Finally, on blaming the ref for an England loss, I have at least some just cause!

    And I don't think the Welsh players should be getting the biggest mention, I personally think it should be the coach. That man has moulded a group of wannabes into a wonderful team.

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  • 76. At 1:19pm on 15 Feb 2009, enanjay wrote:

    Well - there was a surprise - England hugely improved and as a neutral, they can feel hard done by by some of the referees decisions.
    The two England yellow cards were fair enough - however, Byrne should have been in the bin for taking out Armitage in the air and the tackle on Sackey after kicking the ball through was again 'cardable'.
    Having said that - what a blood and guts game by both teams - talk about 'fronting up'. I think Wales were amazed by the improved England and fair play to Wales for standing firm.
    I had grave concerns about the Northern Hemisphere rugby after the first set of games - not now.
    Ireland will win the 6 Nations I think - however, looking forward to the rest of it now.

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  • 77. At 1:30pm on 15 Feb 2009, enanjay wrote:

    Having read some of the comments - Welshleigh, naturally biased I accept, however, what you must accept is that Wales have done thier usual, played well the year after a World Cup, when all other nations take the chance of rebuilding.
    Sadly, there is no strength in depth for Wales and, this is as good as they will get.
    You have it right, Wales, if they are as good as they are made out to be should have put 30 points past the English team - what is a fact is that they are not good enough to do so and are now in decline towards the third best team in the UK behind Ireland and England - with Scotland coming up on the heels, they could even slip back to fourth.
    The problem with the Welsh game is the domestic game, which sadly cannot attract the best players - it is a shame, however, money is beginning to price them out.

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  • 78. At 1:34pm on 15 Feb 2009, Ed2003 wrote:

    It was an excellent game and all credit to Wales who I thought did enough to deserve the win.

    As an Englishman I am both pleased and wary with our performance. I am pleased because for the first time in a long time we showed some passion in defence and were much much more confident going forward. If we can play at that level in Dublin then we'll give Ireland a real test. However, I'm wary at the same time because we've had these false dawns before. When we beat France last year it was seen as a turning point but we slipped back into mediocrity so I'm hoping Johnson gets the team back on the training field and demands the same intensity every game.

    I think when Flood and Tait came on to join Tindall and Flutey it really opened the game up and we threatened to score a third try. But I don't think we should fall into the trap of starting Flood in Dublin. It will be another massive game with the crowd dead against us again. So we need to settle down and play territory in the early part of the game. I'd start with Goode and bring Flood and Tait on in the second half.

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  • 79. At 1:41pm on 15 Feb 2009, matt wrote:

    First off, what a game of rugby - all the nations seem to be playing great, entertaining rugby - Scotland were desperately unlucky not towin yesterday...just hope the Evans bros. are. there to stay (though if hadden wants to rest them for the England game I'd be most happy!)

    I agree that kaplan wasn't fantastic but the yellow cards were right on (I'm an avid English supporter btw) - they did the Leicester trick 'rather 3 than 7'

    We NEED to sort out our discipline - it was painful at times...but if we move forward from here then we'll be well on our way in the right direction & please replace borthwick - he just seems like a bit of a thick lump.
    nb. U should be in the referees ear all game a la gregan, mccaw, dallaglio

    Well done Wales - but more to the point well done the northern hemisphere!

    Let's stuff SA on the lions tour!!!!

    I'm very excited about the potential lions 22 now! : )

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  • 80. At 2:11pm on 15 Feb 2009, mikenotmick wrote:

    Wales won and deserved to. As an England fan I want to see some progress and got some, so that's unfortunately the limit of my ambition at present, as long as it keeps going.

    Borthwick needs to be a skipper - he seems to be too much a (fairly)competant field soldier, but not more - can you imagine Dellaglio or Johnson not being in the ref's ear - Byrne should have gone 10 mins and towards the end, can't remembr who killed it near the Welsh line - but the justification for Goode going was proximity - Borthwick should have reminded the myopic Kaplan of consistency!

    And I am sorry the offside was nonsense - Wales seem to have achieved the level of competance of getting away with it that the All Blacks do, against everyone.

    BUT and amongst all that Wales were better and won, actually without too much difficulty and they closed out the game with ease.

    Shame for England they have to go away against Ireland next - could be too much of a knock back.

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  • 81. At 2:12pm on 15 Feb 2009, VillaFrance wrote:

    RussDJ, 09.12 am, I agree that Brian Moore is biased, but surely you don't think that Eddy Butler is any better? Not a good word all day for England. If you think Worsley only made a few tackles, then you didn't watch the match. And what has gone wrong with the old educated Welsh crowd? Whistling at penalties? I thought that was for Murrayfield and the French! It used to be the etiquette was perfect silence, but the Welsh have obviously forgotten that in the excitement of finally being good again.

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  • 82. At 2:19pm on 15 Feb 2009, Rupert Tarquinson wrote:

    For years fans of other countries complained about referees allowing the likes of Dallaglio, Back and Hill to get away with murder at the breakdown. Now the boot is on the other foot and England fans are complaining. You should all just grow up and take the ups and downs as they come. Wales deserved to win yesterday, the winning margin was about right for the match. That's it.

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  • 83. At 2:34pm on 15 Feb 2009, mikenotmick wrote:

    Dear Rupert, strange name for a welshman - not complaining - just suggesting Borthwick needs more as a skipper. Read the rest "Wales won and deserved to" and "they closed out the game with ease".

    When you are not the best side you don't get the breaks, in a professional game you need to try everything to get some.

    Oviously the complaining against the England old guard worked!

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  • 84. At 2:37pm on 15 Feb 2009, ya_dafty wrote:

    Quality, pulsating and intriguing. I enjoyed the game very much. A lot has been said about the games and the teams so rather than repeat the praises, criticisms or whatever, i want to add a point about Martin Johnson.

    Why has someone with little experience managing England? Some of the explainations in the past don't quite hold up and I really can't help feeling and thinking this is boys looking after their own.

    I don't think England will be doing anything special in Rugby for a long long time.

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  • 85. At 2:40pm on 15 Feb 2009, LeeBJames wrote:

    Anyone who thinks Kaplan had a good game is either myopic or Welsh.
    The offside was being played to perfection by Wales albeit on the wrong side of the law.
    Forward pass missed on several occassions, including the pass to Halfpenny that led to Goode going.
    Not the cricket score the Welsh wanted and I would be slightly worried with this performance and the one against Scotland.
    Ok so a win is a win but you have France and Ireland to go.
    Winding up for a barnstorming 6N.

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  • 86. At 2:44pm on 15 Feb 2009, goonballs86 wrote:

    very very very well done wales!thoroughly deserved!wasn't the best game for quality ball in hand rugby, but couldn't be bettered for passion, commitment and drama!
    wales won just about every aspect of the game, but england were a much tougher task than expected-fair play goes to them for their part in what was a classic wales-england thriller

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  • 87. At 2:59pm on 15 Feb 2009, fredthe12th wrote:

    i personally think wales were lucky to win, because they got away with so much foul play, in the last 20mins they were constantly offside and didnt get penalised once for it. i also think the supporters behaviour was terrible as they kept booing the english kickers, resulting in several missed kicks.

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  • 88. At 3:03pm on 15 Feb 2009, ya_dafty wrote:

    What is wrong with booing the English kickers?

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  • 89. At 3:08pm on 15 Feb 2009, fredthe12th wrote:

    the english supporters didnt boo the welsh kickers!! rugby fans generally dont do things like that, in other sports maybe. rugby supporters are normally more respectful than that

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  • 90. At 4:00pm on 15 Feb 2009, U13832846 wrote:

    Enjoyed the game,credit due to both sides
    but,can`t the beeb find better English pundits,?A former male model,a manicurist and a ballroom dancer,whats Rob Andrew doing these days?

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  • 91. At 4:04pm on 15 Feb 2009, U13832846 wrote:

    I thought the after match comments were one sided and not a true reflection of the game

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  • 92. At 4:28pm on 15 Feb 2009, VillaFrance wrote:

    Comment 88, please go back to watching football - that's obviously where you belong. If you don't know what is wrong with booing a kicker, you are obviously watching the wrong sport.

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  • 93. At 5:09pm on 15 Feb 2009, thef2007 wrote:

    There's a lot being said about Kaplans refereeing here. Alsdo a lot of bitching on how Wales played him to pefection.

    Kaplan talked to the English and explained Borthwick his plan - England pushed it,

    Wales pushed it - lots of comments how Ryan Jones should have gone.

    Difference Jones did enough and made an albeit shambles of an attempt to move away. - playing the ref........

    Now heres a view you need look at. The video analysts study refs and play to their "weakness'" dont try telling that they dont listen to every word of commentary from the refs and work out how to do it. Then relay that in teh game to the players. Been there done it!

    So if Engkand cant work out Kaplans game prior to the match more fool England they knew what Kaplan was about and total lack of discipline cost.

    Wales on other hand played it "correctly"

    Do I like it ?no but this is the game these days. In teh old days with your local ref you knew what to expect and do now its at a very different level.

    Very hard for refs.

    As far as I'm concerned if England play a slow donkey style game get penalised and binned - you've been able to do it for years and get away with it very nicely - good for Kaplan and go send a few Welsh guys off too I wouldnt have grumbled. I wanted see a great game I got one

    As far as it goes Goode could grumble but he knew what he was doing and prevented Wales winning a quick ball which the yconcievable would have scored.

    Just the way it is Wales will look forward to France as England will look forward to Ireland - England need get disciplined end of story - or the bin bench is goingbe staying very warm.

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  • 94. At 5:14pm on 15 Feb 2009, CASSEROLEON wrote:

    As as longstanding English supporter I say all credit to Wales for winning the game. As MJ has said in effect England could have won it if they were as much of a complete team as Wales- which they were not.

    But I was greatly encouraged by the English performance and there are signs that a team may be building. Having defended the selection of Joe Worsley all week I felt that he really proved a point.

    But this brings up the question of just how MJ allowed, possibly Warren Gatland, and certainly the Media to create this idea that when he said that England must stop Wales from getting quick ball- this meant using the famous Leicester techniques of "slowing down the ball". Gatland even refered to having deliberately watched some of tapes of Leicester club games.

    And I have to say that I had something of a sinking feeling when I saw that Kaplan was refereeing this game. I am not a stats man, but I would be very interested to see his career total of penalties against England as opposed to penalties for.

    I perhaps do the man an injustice, but it is quite possible that - as England players often do not play with quite as much passion as some other sides- their indiscretions are interpreted by him more as evil and calculated rather than mere "getting carried away" that could account for example for the Gough tackle that looked rather like a sheer shoulder charge.

    As far as I am concerned Worsley was THE weapon against the Welsh quick ball, which against Scotland had come from the rampant and powferful runs of Roberts and Powell. Both of them got very little change from Worsley all game; and as England tackled much more ferociously than Scotland I will need to watch the game again to see whether England were piling more men into the contact zone.

    But overall it is unfortunate for the whole game of rugby that our appreciation of possibly the best true rugby game that we may see this Six Nations has been dimmed by this controversy...But after another day of endless whistle, etc, there may be lessons to be learned as to whether recent law changes have improved the game for the fans.

    As it was, Wales, minus the World Player of the Year, still looked and played more like a team than England; and, much as I was uplifted by Sackey's try, would he have made it against Shane Williams rather than Mark Jones? That MJ had not played for seven weeks.

    And Armitage's try is the kind of thing that you get on the plus side when you play someone who is still learning his trade, and will play on a "pick and mix" basis.

    And, as for learning trades, just as MJ and his team have not yet understood Media manipulation before games, perhaps they have also not mastered the manager's half-time talk. After all MJ has been brought in because of his great captaincy skills; and perhaps gave a captain's rather than a manager's talk in the dressing room.

    Certainly it looks like the match was in effect decided by the 10 minute sin-binning of Goode; and, as that came more or less straight after the half-time break, perhaps strong words had been put to Goode about keeping up his own defensive commitment.

    But I hope that my lasting memory of this game will be the smiling face of Ryan Jones who, from his very first start for Wales had shown all of the qualities that Rugby fans must love to see in their game.

    No Englishman should begrudge such a honest and fair Corinthian the happiness of leading Wales to a victory over England that they still had to earn; for, in spite of all the penalties, Wales still had to hold off a very determined English effort to win.


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  • 95. At 5:27pm on 15 Feb 2009, The Holy Hooker wrote:

    Good blog.

    Congrats Wales - you deserved to win - just.

    For shame Mr Kapland - you had a shocker, and are fast becoming as dreaded as the appalling Mr Dickenson.

    For shame too the Millenium crowd and their booing and jeering of the English kickers - one of rugby's core values is respect - lose that and we're no better than football(God forbid).

    I find the idea of a international league of probability to receive yellow cards intriguing; for an identical offense, which country would be most or least likely to receive a sin-binning?

    As we know, black and yellow don't go, so the ABs are the least likely and will continue to get away with murder. England would be somewhere near the most likely, but what of the others?

    Anyway - well done you Whites - stuffed all those predications of cricket scores down a few throats and scared the bejazus out of 'em.

    Bottom line? Surprisingly, both Wales and England are still works-in-progress, and this year's 6N probably still has a few twists to provide. What odds on France to be the 2009 champions?

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  • 96. At 5:32pm on 15 Feb 2009, gridnard wrote:

    Good article Tom and a fair appraisal of the game. Couldn't fault the commitment from England but Wales just had a stealth player, in the form of the referee .... I am an Americal living in the UK for the past 6 years and I have never witnessed such a biased attitude from a referee.

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  • 97. At 6:12pm on 15 Feb 2009, portemitre2 wrote:

    There are some really good comments on this blog but there are also some of the usual anti english/anti welsh stuff that is so childish.

    I'm a brit (with strong welsh roots) and I'm in Portland Oregon, USA. I watched the game live in a pub in town at 9.30am (beer doesn't taste as good then!!).

    It was a great game and boith sides take away much credit. The English for their improvement and the Welsh for their heart and ability to change tactics so admirably.

    Refs come and go - but to whine that England lost because Kapland is biased is so stupid. England lost because of a lack of discipline at crucial moments and Wales won because they were the slightly better team on the day. It's a game that's all.

    I was in a pub with about 40 Americans who were amazed at the speed, power, fitness and determination of all on the pitch. This game was a spectacle which showed British sport at its best - I was proud to be a Brit - but perhaps slighly prouder to be a Welshman as well.

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  • 98. At 6:22pm on 15 Feb 2009, Dave Williams wrote:

    Having watched the Lee Byrne incident again a few times , I can see why he wasn't binned. If you look again you will see another england player standing in front of Armitage protecting him, and he actually obstructs Lee Bryne causing him to mistime his catch. you can't always go by the commentary for your opinions, they make mistakes as well!

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  • 99. At 7:00pm on 15 Feb 2009, zxDaveM wrote:

    Great game I thought. Both teams playing with passion, commitment and, after England stopped giving away penalties as a game plan, with a willingness to play rugby. When England put a bit of pace into their game, they look like they could be a good team again - which is good for the forthcoming Lions tour.

    But its obviously got to be replayed, with a different ref. Can't have all those disappointed and bitter English fans upset now can we. Oh - and whilst we're at it, replay the match from 2006, when at least 3 of the English tries, were forward passes, deliberate knock-ons, or whatever (we'd have only lost by 10pts then!!). And I'm sure NZ will be happy to have the last world cup quarter final with France replayed too, whilst we're at it.....

    So come on guys (and gals) - the ref was bound to look especially hard at England's tactics at the breakdown after Johnson's comments in the week, and the fact that its been 'the English way' for years (though they don't seem to be as cute at it, as they were in the days of the likes of Neil Back et al). Someone commented earlier they were 'happy' at England's performance - well, I wouldn't go that far, they lost after all, but at least they now seem willing to play a bit, which should bode them well for future games, as they have a back 3 that can do damage to anyone. Someone said Wales need to find a 13 - thought that unfair as Shanklyn had a super game - its England suffering there, as Tindall looked pretty clueless to me. Wales didn't play at their finest - England simply didn't allow them to (hats off for the likes of Joe Worsley, and England's defensive plan) - but we are now finding ways of winning when we don't play at our best, which is what good teams do (as England did leading up to 2003). So overall I think both teams can take something out of the game - but importantly for us, that included the 2points for winning.

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  • 100. At 7:04pm on 15 Feb 2009, zxDaveM wrote:

    PS - I think the return of Henson at 12 (and obviously Shane at 11) will add a extra dimension to our back play, as he seems to be able to vary his game more than Roberts, depending on what's happening in front of him.

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  • 101. At 7:22pm on 15 Feb 2009, 1967Ross wrote:

    Well done to Wales on winning a very exciting game of rugby. They were the worthy winners at the end of the day. They didn't play brilliantly but still won, which is the important thing. They also won without Williams playing. Wales vs France is going to be an interesting encounter.

    As an Englishman I'm pleased with the improved performance of England; they appeared to have a game plan, some great passages of play and the defence was terrific. They could have perhaps won this match if it hadn't been for the penalty count.

    Not sure why so many England fans are surprised by Kaplan's performance? I'm certainly not. It's not the first time and it won't be the last time we will see England lose out to inconsistent refereeing. It doesn't matter what Wales did or didn't get away with in the match, that shouldn't be our concern. What's important is that England lost the game because they did concede too many penalties. One of England's strengths has been discipline. If this team had the same discipline as the 2003 WC winning team, the result of this match might have been a different one.

    Yes it's not fair that referees like Kaplan can get away with it but that's the way it is. I'm not saying we should accept it, but whining about it just looks like sour grapes. England have had to deal with Kaplan's refereeing before and so should have been prepared for this. They will have to learn that they can't give these referees any excuse to give penalties or to sin bin players.

    England need to sort out the discipline. They've done it before with Johnson as captain, they should be able to do it again with Johnson as Manager.

    But a very exciting game of rugby and congratulations Wales.

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  • 102. At 7:44pm on 15 Feb 2009, OOOgaz wrote:

    Didn't like the comments made by chocl8rain a little bit childish i think, remember wales have been in a slump before themselves it hurts get over it...... anyway,

    Cracking game has to the best so far, i agreed with jiffy's comments before the game, regarding the 'winning 'margin issue love them or dislike them England are an experienced outfit that will test any side when it comes to it, As welsh we should take it as a 'complement' that England played so well against us and went for it.

    Johnson said before the game that his players were being given a historical oppurtunity and they didn't fail in all the sin binnings and offences they were up for it, and Worseley and sackey eanred themselves selection for the Lions.

    Healey also mentioned the word Williams and 'Talisman' yeah i think he's right Shane does bring an amazing edge to Wales however England aren't that different the Likes of Worseley and Vickery 'old timers'who will lead from the front.

    As for Wales 'thankyou' it's nice to see this constant need for development and progression, that's the way a team should develop.Don't hammer yourselves with criticism but highlight the points that need addressing and do it!!

    I like the way we are developing as a team and i think Edwards, Gatland and Howley are making a massive impression and have to be arguably one of or if not the best coaching set ups in the world, we have been so lucky to get Gatland and Edwards together.

    All credit to the players though Powell 'awesome' has to be Lions contender, Halfpenny 'fast responsive and balanced on the wing' i think he'll get better and better as the tournament goes on, ace performance from the pack come on boys .....keep it going.

    If France play the way they did over the weekend it think Wales could upset them easily hawever the 'hard' game is going to be Ireland there on form and firing well, it's going to be a good 6 nations.

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  • 103. At 7:50pm on 15 Feb 2009, melbourne25 wrote:

    Here goes:

    Wales are probably the best team in the NH at the moment but I can see Ireland giving them a good game. Wales have been transformed by Gaitland and Edwards into a good team who will prpbably win the 6n again.

    I think Engald looked better but still look stilted and afraid of the ball. Please Johnno, gives us JSD and Cips in the backs.

    I thought yesterday may have pushed a few English players towards Lions contention after winning personal battles (Haskell, Ellis, Flutey, Cueto)

    On the negative side of things, can I just say though that the Welsh have not really got hold of the quiet thing when people are kicking at goal. The booing whenever an England player took a kick was disgraceful.

    For those Welsh fans who said England deserved yellow cards because they slowed the ball down, what are we meant to do, stand back and applaud. Also please watch Martyn Williams if you want a lesson in slowing the ball down.

    I also was appalled at lee Byrne taking out a man in the air. Surely he should have realised how dangerous that is. How was that not a yellow card.

    Yes I am a sore loser and I really hate losing against the Welsh. Lets hope for a different reult next year.

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  • 104. At 7:59pm on 15 Feb 2009, ScarletIeu wrote:

    It was great to see Wales competing with aggressive physicality. In previous years England have shunted Wales off the park (as recently as 2006).
    Joe Worsley was magnificent and Wales should have changed tactics when Roberts and Powell were constantly stopped by him.
    Does anyone know the tackle count for Gethin Jenkins and A W Jones? They were everywhere!

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  • 105. At 8:04pm on 15 Feb 2009, OOOgaz wrote:

    melbourne 25 i agree with you i don't like the booing against the opposition we are 'NOT' football supporters, however as a welshman i can start to understand were this is generated from..... i know i know's the 'carling years'

    If England hate losing to the Welsh, there isn't a word in the dictionary to describe how the welsh feel to losing to England.

    Anyway we need to put this 'friendly banter' to one side as a nation and draw from all areas of Britain and Ireland to put forward a strong Lions side........who do you think your fifteen would be???

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  • 106. At 8:27pm on 15 Feb 2009, Ron666 wrote:

    Paris will be very different though. We won't be up against a team which regards losing by 8 points as a moral victory; we'll be up against one which expects to beat us, and will do so unless we play better than we did yesterday. Still, Shane should be back, and that will help.

    And if we could pull it off in Paris, then it would produce a tremendous climax against Ireland in the last game, with both sides going for the Slam. Ireland look to have a fantastic side this year. If we don't get the Slam, I hope they do.

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  • 107. At 8:30pm on 15 Feb 2009, Edna Bucket wrote:

    So, Wales retain the bragging rights over England for another year.
    This was a truly stupendous test match and the England team that walked out against Wales was not the same as that against Italy.

    The Welsh team has helped raise the standard for the 6 Nations and by being THE team to beat, I suspect that we might all be a notch closer to the standard of southern hemishpere rugby.

    Whilst the English press are claiming a moral victory over the Welsh, I would suggest that except for two lapses in concentration when the tries were scored, England were never going to claim a victory over such a well organised and big-hearted Welsh team.

    The real test will be against the Irish....

    The Major

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  • 108. At 8:40pm on 15 Feb 2009, ScarletIeu wrote:

    Ok OOOgaz, here goes:

    15 Lee Byrne (no argument here?)
    14 Paul Sackey (great flyer)
    13 Brian O'Driscoll (still a class act)
    12 Gavin Henson (if fit and 'up for it')
    11 Shane Williams (loves the SA defence)
    10 Stephen Jones (the Scarlet Controller)
    9 Mike Phillips (strong, fast, 9th forward)
    8 Ryan Jones (capt. Immense. Always.)
    7 Martyn Williams (still best open-side)
    6 James Haskell (wish he was Welsh!)
    5 Alun-Wyn Jones (he's got everything)
    4 Paul O'Connell (so has he)
    3 Euan Murray (if he gets big game-time)
    2 Ross Ford (does everything well)
    1 Andrew Sheridan (massive presence)

    Bench: Jerry Flannery Gethin Jenkins
    James Hook Dwayne Peel
    Doncha O'Callaghan
    Alistair Strokosch
    Tommy Bowe

    I know it looks biased, but apart from Henson and Murray, I'm looking at the form players.

    Please feel free to shoot me down in flames!

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  • 109. At 9:35pm on 15 Feb 2009, OOOgaz wrote:

    Yeah generally agree with you, However.... Henson as big a fan of him as i am he's yet to prove himself as a regular Welsh international yet alone a Lions, for passing i think he is hard to beat but i think this linking of Shanklin and Roberts could yield some serious points scoring for a Lions Team.

    O'driscoll and O'conell are both class players and i can see Worseley taking a big part as well, i think what the Lions have been lacking in the past is a Coach/Manager who can really bind them as a 'team' as the NH we have got the skill and qualtiy players to beat 'any' team we just need that catalyst to tie us as "1" team playing for the same thing win win win !!!

    So far i've been really pleased by the commitment and development of the Wales side were leading the NH in the right direction of intensity, Ireland are looking strong and consistent and England are still strong and determined up front with the backs looking more exciting than ever before in English rugby!!!

    With the coaching staff of Mcgeechan Gatland Edwards and the rest i think this might be entertaining!

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  • 110. At 9:41pm on 15 Feb 2009, OOOgaz wrote:

    Apologies didn't sound right Henson has been a regular for the wales international side, just needs to get stuck in again 100%

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  • 111. At 10:04pm on 15 Feb 2009, Alex wrote:

    Here we go, England moving in the right direction bla bla bla. What happens when we get stuffed by France and Ireland? What do we think then? Lets.not.get.ahead.of.ourselves!!!

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  • 112. At 10:24pm on 15 Feb 2009, ya_dafty wrote:

    I am not condoning booing at all. And I am a Rugby fan and for my sins follow Scotland.

    I asked why booing was wrong to see if I would get a proper answer. I know the reasons in terms of conduct, approach, tradition etc.

    But correct me if I am wrong but hasn't there always been a hostile atmosphere whenever England travel to Paris, Edinburgh or Cardiff. I have heard many many many times English kickers being boo'd. And another reason for asking the question was to highlight that you can't possibly link getting beat to kickers being boo'd because like I say, it has been done in the recent past.

    And one final point about booing. What if a kicker is getting boo'd. The chances are the kicker is mentally switched off to the surroundings and in the zone. If the kicker can be put off buy some boos (regardless of whether he should be hearing the boos) then the kicker should not be wearing an international jersey.

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  • 113. At 11:26pm on 15 Feb 2009, CASSEROLEON wrote:

    Interestingly silence and respect can be more off-putting than whistling or booing.

    Two years ago I was in France when the French came to Twickenham, and the night before the match there was a very interesting build-up background programme on French TV.

    One ex-player- possibly the great kicker Paparambourde- recounted how he had been transfixed playing in what for the French is THE temple of World Rugby. When he placed the ball for an attempt at goal, the silence was defeaning for someone accustomed to all the hostile whistling etc that habitually happened in France.

    It was all part of that mysterious power of the English- in French eyes. France were in the build up to their home World Cup, firm favourites etc.. but the comentators said beware the English ambush..


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  • 114. At 11:27pm on 15 Feb 2009, OOOgaz wrote:

    graniteRhinosrule comment made at 1004pm

    You do what every other team has had to do accept that your not No1 any more and get at it again improve yourselves find your talent develop it.

    Just because England won the world cup doesn't meat they are are going to be the dogs ******* for ever.

    England have got players like Wales putting there hands up and wanting to be heard, they might not be internationals but embrace them and develop them.

    I think Rugby more than any sport, Countries can recycle their success if they have right support structures in place.

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  • 115. At 11:30pm on 15 Feb 2009, steveboyo663 wrote:

    Being a long sufferring Welsh fan it is ironic how the tide turns. Back in the 80's and 90's we lost a lot of talented Welsh rugby union internationals to English rugby league clubs. This was ONE of the reasons our national side sufferred. What international side wouldn't want Scott Quinnel/ Alan Bateman/ Jonathan Davies/ Mark Jones/ David Young/ Jonathan Deveroux/ Adrian Hadley/ Scott Gibbs, i could go on and on. Just a note I saw Alan Bateman(among others) play for the Welsh legends v English Legands(Newbridge RFC 13th feb) What a second half cameo pure class! Mr Gatland take note.
    And as for booing kickers I don't condone it. I was at Wembley in 1999 and i remember English fans not exactly egging Neil Jenkins to kick the winning conversion.
    I didn't exactly embrace the idea of Kaplan reffing the game either, he has done Wales no favours in the past. As any player knows you have to 'play' the ref, You will only have yourself to blame if you don't do your homework. I'm sure Kaplan laid down his law to the captains before the game, all ref's do.
    Yes it was good to see a Welsh result at the end, but it was more enjoyable to see a game that either side could have won. Unlike the 90's when the results were a bit one sided.
    I'm sure it won't be too long before England turn the corner and start getting the results again. There's a wealth of English talent in the guinness league. The coaches just have to keep picking the same key personnel. Don't forget you could argue that the game was won by an englishman Shaun Edwards(exceptional rugby league player) is on the Welsh coaching team! A fete only managed due to the English RFU not recognising his talents!
    How ironic!
    Too early to start talking of Lions tour personnel yet. Another three games to go in the six nations and anything could happen. Although, in an ideal world it would be nice to see Equal numbers from Ireland/Scotland/England and Wales as long as form permits. Being a Welsh fan i would also like to see a fullly fit Welsh starting 15! Ahhh what a prospect.

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  • 116. At 11:36pm on 15 Feb 2009, CASSEROLEON wrote:

    But the point about silence was that, however partisan , traditionally fans felt that the game and their team was combative enough- and that non-combatants should show respect to all players- as warriors do... Kiwis would say that the Haka is a salute by a band of warriors who recognise another band of warriors.

    Having had the good fortune back in the seventies to get twickenham tickets to go with a friend whose Dad taught in a Cardiff PE college, I usually ended up as a lone Englishman sitting in a Welsh block of seats.. It was great fun and very friendly as we exchanged our appreciations of the good play by players in "the other" team.

    But there was less hype in those days.. and I suppose more people "had a life".. These days rugby too seems to be blighted by hangers on who just really know about celebrity culture.


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  • 117. At 10:25am on 16 Feb 2009, confiseur wrote:

    ...Cracking game with Wales and well done the taffs who were well worth the win though not too much in hand at the end methinks...
    With regards to Kaplan, if England suspect/know he has an agenda then please play the ref. and keep your nose clean...its not fair?...well, life rarely is..your professionals, get on with it..

    Cannot see England beating Ireland but would be happy with an improving team again and they will be really up for it aginst the French..

    Ireland/Wales grand slam decider on the last weekend...looking forward to it already....

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  • 118. At 10:29am on 16 Feb 2009, ieuanhuw wrote:

    A brutal encounter, I was absolutely shattered after watching the game and offered my girlfriend nothing on Valentines night afterwards!

    Ian Gough was monumental and is our most underrated and unsung warrior of our improving pack. He never gives less than 100% and is a true monster that Wales have lacked in previous years, we must give this guy more credit!

    What a game it will be in Paris!


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  • 119. At 10:39am on 16 Feb 2009, ScarletIeu wrote:

    I agree, IeuanHuw.. He was immense.. I think that every Welsh forward had a fantastic work rate - what about Gethin Jenkins and Alun-Wyn Jones too?

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  • 120. At 12:25pm on 16 Feb 2009, cymruangel wrote:

    Great article Tom.

    A number of people have mentioned Brian Moore's commentary - on that score I would like to say that I wholeheartedly agreed with Jonathan Davies' laughing disbelief that after a Welsh win, his three (English) fellow pundits only wanted to talk about an English revival!

    I, obviously, am heavily biased myself, but I concur that the referee seemed to have a "white mist" where it came to discipline - Wales were indeed lucky to get away with a number of penalties, if not a card. But I think the issue of the refereeing though affecting the scoreline is somewhat moot in terms of the result, as I rather suspect Wales would have walked away victors no matter who wielded the whistle.

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  • 121. At 12:35pm on 16 Feb 2009, welshwizard5 wrote:

    The concensus of opinion seems to be that England played really well (I'd say defended well rather than played well) and Wales didn't play to their potential.
    If that is the case, I'd be worried as hell if I was English.

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  • 122. At 1:30pm on 16 Feb 2009, CASSEROLEON wrote:

    Having myself contributed to the refereeing debate perhaps I should add two points:

    (a) I totally agree that when you turn up to play it is your business to play according to the conditions- and, if that includes a particular way that the referee interprets the rules, that goes along with the territory.

    As a well-established team now Wales were much better able to adjust. Without having yet studied the video my impression was that in quite a lot of cases England transgressed at the breakdown because people arriving with more zeal than control knocked their team-mates off their feet and flattened them. Getting power, energy, and control in balance takes time.

    But there is a valid debate beforehand between those who organise matches, and, just as players are now liable to face criticism and scrutiny via the citing procedures, so should referees be. No-one is perfect.

    French supporters often complained to me that back in the days of Captain Carling [ and usually they were not aware of his army background] that English teams were always better at playing to the rules, and working the referee by having the captain discuss and "clarify" how the views of the team and that of the referee were deviating.

    In this respect the French were triply disadvantaged (a) most referees the World over spoke English, (b) the French are lawless by nature, and (c) as the game was all about self-control referees tended to look critically at French anger and passion when they did not like a decision.

    (b) Of course the points that England conceded while Goode was sin-binned were important; but they were important for the flow of the game. It gave Wales a potentially winning lead and so, for example, Stephen Jones stayed on, changing WG's standard practice of throwing on Hook in order to increase Wales' attacking options. It does tend to suggest that WG felt that the game was won as long as Wales kept their nerve.


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  • 123. At 2:54pm on 16 Feb 2009, rugbyfirst34 wrote:

    I have been reading all posts for the past 2 days but feel I now have to break my silence.

    I appreciate that fans both side of the border are passionate and most unable not to make unbias comments, however i will try and do that.

    To echo most pundits and commentators it appears that England even though desperately improved either have a very unusual game plan or are unable to transfer what MJ is instructing out on the field. The players lack confidence, rarely make the correct decision and are deperate for a leader. They clearly have the talent within the Guiness Premiership but it's going to take a while to instill that confidence and belief. MJ has a lot to learn about being a coach and i feel some of his passionate comments don't help. England will of course improve and I think MJ will be the man to take them there.

    In contrast the welsh team has that confidence. They can match the english in strength and fitness and combined with belief, more flair and the ability(presence of thought) to carry out a specific game plan are a better team at present. It will be very interesting to see if Wales can progress and stay at the top of NH rugby competing and beating the SH regularly also. As for winning the world cup, I belive Wales can go on and challenge strongly and I would not bet against them getting to a final or even winning. But they must make significantly greater advances and have their key players fit throughout the latter stages. A while away yet and time for many other sides to improve including England, I would sum up by syaing their best chance ever to make an impact.

    We should repect the state of Welsh rugby at present and give credit when due.

    As for the game, I belive the referee got most of the English penalties right as Wales put them under huge pressure but not many English posts acknowledge this. Wales were however very fortunate not to pick up a card. I do not belive Ryan warranted a card but the tackle by Byrne should have seen yellow. Wales deserved the win and with Henson off the bench, Shane starting and a rather lack lustre performance by the french against Scotland and the Irish against Italy would suggest Wales are favourites to retain the Grand Slam. My only hope is that England can continue to improve as a strong English team is a must if NH rugby is to compete with the SH.

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  • 124. At 4:13pm on 16 Feb 2009, basilfawlty wrote:

    As soon as I heard Kaplan was reffing,I knew we were in for problems,not particularly on the evidence of this match,where I'm sure the decisions,although sometimes a little over zealous,could be justified by the letter of the law,and the obvious 100% focus on England's misdemeanours,but on previous occasions where he was in charge.
    I don't know if anyone can dig out the match statistics of penalties/results/decisions/yellow cards for Kaplan when he's reffed England but he appears to have an innate one eyed attitude when England are in front of him which is not justifiable by the facts(I believe...)
    As I said,he appeared to be setting England up for penalties by pre-warning them,and them alone,of infringing.I cannot remember one time where he talked to Ryan Jones about similar offences,even when Martin Williams at the first loose ruck not only dived in from the side but did not stay on his feet either...there's a first!
    Equally,Wales' backline appeared to regularly on the edge of offside and sometimes obviously so and never were blown for it.
    Does anyone else have the view that Kaplan is constantly biased against England as it appears?The Ireland match in 2005 was another incidence of at best incompetent refereeing v cheating.
    I have my doubts about JK.

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  • 125. At 4:19pm on 16 Feb 2009, rugbyfirst34 wrote:

    Is that not the way all games should be handled by referees and is not England that need to adopt a quicker style of play. I say we need more refs like Kaplan as this will encourage a more attarctive style and enjoyable match.

    I don't want to sound bias as he did miss a few welsh offences but I really think taking MJs approach is not good for english rugby. Get behind your team to play quick ball and open expansive rugby!

    Generally we all know England need to improve, let's stop griping about the referee.

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  • 126. At 6:05pm on 16 Feb 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    I'm constantly baffled by the people talking about England's heavy pack? I'm sure that I saw a statistic during the game stating that The Welsh pack were 2.5kg heavier per man.

    So to paraphrase from so much of the guff from the past..."Wales used a heavyweight pack and crashball tactics, relied upon penalties to win against a lighter side that showed greater invention and outscored them 2 - 1 in tries;-)"

    Congratulations to Wales though who just about deserved their win and will certainly provide the bulk of the Lions players. Contrary to other posters though I thought that the Andy Powell, who shone in the Scotland game, looked like four pounds of mince by the time he was subbed this time around. The Springboks will give him a very tough time.

    A chorus of derisive boos to Mr. Kaplan who once again demonstrated the type of asymmetric vigilance that is increasingly making it impossible for English sides to compete on level terms. The game, that used to contain light and shade, that valued speedy backs and tough, brave forwards has increasingly fallen for the marketing mens poisoned chalice...that of making the game "entertaining" at all costs. The result of this being the belief that good forward play is automatically negative and that anything that gets in the way of open running play must be removed.

    So goodbye to the skillful intensity of the rolling maul. Farewell to the pushover try, the lineout duel, the strike against the head and so many other facets of the game. By contrast, referees ignore any infringement that could limit the running game. The use of decoy runners has crossed the line into blatant obstruction. Tacklers are taken out off the ball. Sides infringe yards offside without the ref batting an eyelid.

    Similarly...gone is the mercurial runner who opens up defences (Shane Williams being a beautiful exception here) and hello to the 15 stone crashball runner (Mike Tyndall, Lee Byrne) whose sole role is to set up endless phases of sterile ruck play in which the defending side dare not compete for the ball. Perhaps worst of all...hello to the ping pong kicking game in which sides dare not kick for touch as the lineout has been decaffeinated to such an extent that winning a ball on an opponents throw is a rarity.

    To the English game that has traditionaly relied upon strong forward play, the dice is now completely loaded against them. Facets of the game at which they shine are progressively ironed out by the lawmakers...the recent ELVs putting paid to the last area of non-set piece skill...the rolling maul. This isn't really an accident, after all there were loud calls for the removal of the drop goal once Jonny Wilkinson had made it such a speciality.

    Can it be changed, probably not? The policy makers and the marketing men want a simpler open game with endless recycling of the ball and running. Why not simply propose a merger with Rugby League and create an ecumenical hybrid game, perhaps played out over four quarters that will sell well on Sky in between the beer commercials. It does away with any of that tedious "understanding the rules" stuff.

    Yours faithfully - sad old lion roaring as the darkness closes in.

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  • 127. At 7:26pm on 16 Feb 2009, rugbyfirst34 wrote:

    A very well written post, however if the reference is partly in response to my previous post then I think I was a little misunderstood.

    Obviously I agree that as you so elequently put it ' the skillful intensity of the rolling maul. Farewell to the pushover try, the lineout duel, the strike against the head ' is an integral part of a game and should always be.

    I do think though that defensively at the contact area the likes of Kaplan referee the game very well and this allows all of the facets of the game you clearly love along with a high running intensity whether that is in the form of an 17st centre on the crash or the slight of foot shown by the likes of Shane Williams. Let's us stop constant infringing and slowing the ball and we can enjoy all aspects of this wonderful game.

    I thought I should clarify my point.

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  • 128. At 10:23pm on 16 Feb 2009, vcxpat wrote:


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  • 129. At 10:41pm on 16 Feb 2009, CASSEROLEON wrote:

    I have much sympathy with what you have written... Surely one of the great things about rugby used to be that it was pretty well an all-inclusive game. By that I mean that there was a place in a rugby team for people of all sizes and a wide range of attributes..

    Though a Welsh colleague famously told me that England would never beat Wales because England could not produce forwards who could be "animals", that was already the time when Roger Uttley could earn respect- and just politely accept Jeff Wheels apology for kicking him full in the face and crushing his nose.. And before strong silent types like Dean Richards, Wade Dooley and Paul Ackford showed that the Southern Hemisphere could be taken on up-front by English beef.

    But perhaps we English fans should not despair. I do not begrudge the Welsh the current momentum and self-belief, like the Irish self-belief of a few years ago it seems to reflect a sense of building anew. Ireland had its new found prosperity when it started to see involvement in the EEC in a positive light and no longer aimed at being the kind of backwater throw back that De Valera wanted Eire to be.

    Wales have got a "go forward" feeling with the Millennium Stadium and the new-build and initiatives involved with ameasure of devolution.

    It remains to be seen just how well these "small nations" are going to cope with the developing economic conditions.

    England has it all to do.. But has done it before.. and it seems that England is the India of Rugby in terms of the earnings potential.. at present.

    So the drift of the laws in a direction that will penalise English players-- and the English fan base may well be corrected by the market.


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  • 130. At 10:14am on 17 Feb 2009, BlueNoseAckers wrote:

    I would like to reiterate a point made earlier in this thread but one that commentators or pundits picked up on. I thought Gethin Jenkins was fantastic. He not only made tackles on the fringes where you might expect that to happen but he also made 5/6 open field tackles where you seldom see a prop anywhere near. In addition, he handled Vickery and White (supposedly two of the best tightheads around) without a problem.

    As far as the Lions goes, I believe he is head and shoulders above any other loosehead in the 6N and it is his to lose.

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  • 131. At 12:19pm on 17 Feb 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    127 RugbyFirst

    I think that we may be in passionate agreement here. The response that I would make to your point is that if we are to achieve an all round game of light and shade there will need to be some consistency in applying the rules.

    Sides...England in particular get whistled off the pitch at the breakdown because the rules are now so Byzantine that it's practically impossible not to need a qualification in dramatic arts to distinguish between "holding on" and 'preventing release'. It's rather like Soviet're always guilty of something should someone wish to prosecute you...step forward Mr. Kaplan.

    The question is why is "slowing the ball" so much more heinous than obstruction, body-checking and being yards offside in the three-quarter line?

    The so-called Blitz defence as much loved by Shaun Edwards is effective...and especially effective if you've a headstart of five yards while the ref is fixated on the breakdown with his back to the defensive line. The flowing game stands little chance if the defence arrives at the same time as the ball...but it does of course make great DVDs of "big hits"...great spin-off sales!

    The game on Saturday saw numerous instances on both sides of tacklers taken out off the ball to create space...not a murmur from Mr. Kaplan or his assistants. Referees used to enforce the rules on "crossing" decoy runners openly shield the man with the ball while the "missed pass" player can discreetly wrestle his opposite number to the ground to create space to cut back inside.

    This "flowing" game at all costs may appeal to some. I just think that the dark arts have left the base of the ruck and are now openly practiced and endorsed in the three-quarters. We get basket ball scores, the advertisers and sponsors love it...but then professional wrestling on Saturday afternoons also used to be very popular until it became so contrived that people started to switch off!

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  • 132. At 6:11pm on 17 Feb 2009, CASSEROLEON wrote:

    Having watched the game again on video I am more convinced that Gough's tackle on Hartley- the one that made the whole stadium take in its breath- was not a legal tackle but a blatant shoulder-charge with no use of the right arm at all. Quite apart from the footage of the actual tackle, Gough was down soon afterwards suffering from a "stinger"- a pretty good indication of having just put his shoulder in.

    Gough has been sent off for less in the past.. and it was done right in line with the posts. Three points and Wales down to 14 men????

    But no-one ( except perhaps the man himself) expects Mr Kaplan to be God and achieve perfection..

    As I have said, fair dos to Wales they edged it, though I don't expect all Welsh fans to see how narrow the margin should have been, as it went their way...

    What is this new business about "bragging rights"?

    People who get their just desserts should have no need to bragg; and those who get more than their just desserts have no right to.


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  • 133. At 8:32pm on 18 Feb 2009, kiwifella wrote:

    fantastic to see the welsh revival continue
    and a double grandslam would be brilliant but Ireland and France wont be easy..
    I have always loved the Welsh passion and
    my heart is with them if I wasnt a kiwi I d be yellin Go Boyo!!!! Go Wales Go Go Go!!!!!!!

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