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Sean Davies

A strange kind of fever (5)

Cardiff
It’s been a strange sort of pre-World Cup fever in Wales, a summer sickness in the August warm-up games cooling the volatile passion of the fans.

Last year, Gareth Jenkins and his coaching team were talking confidently of the “Welsh way” and the possibility of claiming the World Cup.

It’s fair to say that the fans never really bought into that, yet, despite a record of just four wins from 15 games, the buoyant background mood inside the camp seemed to hold true – until last month’s France game.

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The Twickenham disaster on 4 August could be put down to selection and the fact that it was the first competitive game after a long summer of training, a poor performance that mirrored Wales’ poor build-up in 2003.

But the fine-tuning should have been complete by the time France came to the Millennium Stadium.

Wales seemed to play reasonably well – but they were blown away by a world-class team, and since then all talk from the camp has been about “getting to the quarter-final and taking it from there”.

The build-up in the office has been pretty feverish, though, particularly after the World Cup sweep.

This female-dominated affair confirmed the increasingly prominent role of women in rugby as the old-school blazerati are elbowed aside.

My colleague Emma organised the draw, and promptly picked out South Africa, blowing on her scorched fingers as they left the bag.

The other prize choices - New Zealand and France - went to Laura and Dot.

Australia fell to me – fittingly, as I have the reputation in the office of a style-conscious new man, the bloke most in touch with his feminine side.

Anyway, with department travel plans and hotel bookings being conducted in French accents worthy of ‘Allo ‘Allo!, I’ve been chained to my desk, working on the launch of the new-look Scrum V and Scrum V Extras websites.

The Beeb didn’t see fit to shout me a ferry fare to France for Wales' opener, though they were happy to exploit my contacts in the Tredegar-Orvault twin-town association for their radio features, and I look forward to hearing my good friends Alain and Christophe Balliau waxing lyrical about Nantes FC on BBC Wales.

I’m pretty jealous of the fans who are making their way to Brittany, it’s a lovely part of the world and you may have seen Tom Shanklin raving about the talent on La Baule beach in his column!

Wales seem to be banking on winning the support of the Bretons, but, while the Bretons are fiercely proud of their heritage, I’m not too sure how widely known the historic and linguistic ties to Wales are.

I remember my hosts being astounded when I was able to translate the Breton name of their dog – Pen-du – into English (black head). When I explained that it was the same as in Welsh, I just got some quizzical looks!

I’m off work for the opening weekend of the Cup so will be holed up in a Cardiff pub – purely to judge the mood of the nation, of course.

After that I’ll be manacled to my desk again, having had to give up my tickets to the Australia and Japan games.

My colleague, Bruce, will be attending the Wallabies game and catering to all your blogging needs from the stadium.

I’ll be there for THE match of the group stages, Wales v Japan on 20 September.

It’s the game that none of the pundits can pick, so count yourselves lucky that you’ll have my knowledge and expertise to hand…

Sean Davies is a BBC Sport journalist based in Cardiff.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:48 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Evan wrote:

Glad to see your back Sean - loved your views during the Six Nations. Unfortunately my World Cup Sweep in work didn't plan out as well as can be expected (I drew Georgia)

  • 2.
  • At 05:11 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Sean Davies wrote:

Cheers Evan - we've got a consolation prize in the sweep for the team conceding most points, but my bet for that would be Portugal.

  • 3.
  • At 05:30 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • John davies wrote:

Hi I am one of the few that have left the green green grass of home for pastures new (New Zealand) but my heart is still in Wales,therefoe i will be getting up at some ungodly hour to cheer our boys on. Despite the mutterings of my new neighbours my Wales flag will be flying proud.

  • 4.
  • At 04:22 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Evan wrote:

Unfortunately in our sweep there's no consolation prize so I'm all out of luck there....

With regards to our boys in red, I think they'll make the quarter finals, although won't get past that stage I'm afraid. The problem being that there's no playmaker in the backline other than James Hook. Stephen Jones (although a good player) in my opinion doesn't have the footballing skills or pace to be a genuine 12. Alfie can do a good job there, but isn't a playmaker. MY thoughts go back to Henson and wondering why Jenkins didn't take him. Fair enough he wasn't completely fit, but was Ian Evans or Stephen Jones?

Anyway, that's all in the past. Roll on Sunday and the start of Wales's trip to World Cup Glory!

  • 5.
  • At 10:46 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • erwan wrote:

Wales will play at home in Brittany, do not worry. Our national anthem, Bro Gozh ma zadou, is the sames as yours.

even if Nantes is not the most Breton city of the land, you will get, I am sure, the support of our people.


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