Ryan Jones

Mixed emotions for a game of two halves (18)

Swansea - With the dust having settled on our win against Canada on Sunday, it’s only now that I’ve sat and watched the boys in action that it’s hit home what I’m actually missing in France.

It was a day of mixed emotion for me and the thought that I may be watching my only chance to play in a World Cup slip away was not eased by the Canadian first-half performance.

In hindsight fans will be asking why it took us so long to exercise our superiority in the contest but it must be understood that in international rugby, regardless of who you are playing or what world rankings suggest, there is not going to be a lot of room early on.

This was evident in all of the weekend’s matches and, with the exception the dazzling All Blacks whose first-half onslaught against Italy was an ominous message to the rest, none of the fancied teams were able to wrestle full control of their respective games until a solid foundation had been laid.

So let’s take nothing away from Canada. They came with a physical game plan to spoil and disrupt Wales and it worked early on. I thought the early trend of missing touch with clearing kicks didn’t allow us to dominate field-position at all and in turn meant that we were playing the rugby in the wrong areas of the field. That completely suited the dogged Canadians and didn’t allow us to exert any continual pressure.


But in fairness to the boys nobody panicked and the considerable experience that we had in the changing room allowed the team to identify the flaws at half-time and put them right after the break. The character and composure shown in that second period are traits that will no doubt be called upon again if we are to achieve what we are capable of in this tournament.

Another big plus point was the set-piece. The consistency we showed in that area meant we could play the game on the front foot and subsequently we managed a total of 12 line-breaks. The second-half substitutions, which are now well-documented, obviously had a positive impact too and it just shows the importance of having a strong bench.

I just wanted to end with a quick note regarding James Hook. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the media’s knives have come out for James in the wake of his substitution on Sunday and after one performance that has dipped below his own exactingly high standards, there is suggestion that he’s a spent force!

The bottom-line is James is class and we are so fortunate to be able to call on a guy with both the sublime talent and the cool temperament that he posseses. He and Stephen Jones are central to everything that Wales want to achieve and Gareth Jenkins will be desperate to utilise the strengths that each of them bring to the table to maximum effect.

Ryan Jones plays number eight for Wales but misses the World Cup through injury.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:54 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • ExileNick wrote:

You say above that the early trend of missing clearance kicks to touch meant we didn't dominate field position thereby playing to Canada's strength. That seemed obvious to me as a rugby watcher (admittedly not player)of many years. My concern then if it is obvious to us, why is it not something either picked upon by the coaches prior to the game or by the more senior players on the pitch (as the match progressed) as something to avoid. This is not reassuring. The post match comments about SJ & Alfie seeing what needed to be done from ther bench may be more so but if that is the case why wasn't the message sent onto the pitch with the physio when treating players

  • 2.
  • At 05:23 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Connell wrote:


Hook v Jones debate aside..

If Shanks had put a sheep in your room, as he did to Dwayne, what would be a suitable repost in your opinion?

  • 3.
  • At 05:40 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Can you believe Ford?

Quote "Ford warned that anyone expecting a try-fest in Friday's encounter will probably be disappointed.

"International rugby nowadays, when you get to the top eight nations, is a game of field position.

"Sometimes it is better if you don't have the ball and for the opposition to have it, because it is harder to attack in rugby union.

"It becomes a game of turnovers, about keeping your discipline, kicking your penalties, keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

"When you are up against the top sides in the world, that is the game. There won't be many tries on Friday night.

"You can talk about attack all you want but it rarely happens at this sort of level."

Tell that to the ABs, the Aussies, the Boks - then eat humble pie!! Get real, the problem is in the team selection, wrong team, wrong tactics, wrong result!

  • 4.
  • At 05:56 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Dan Lovell wrote:

I was very proud of the boys on Monday. It is no surprise Wales mounted a second-half blitz, that's rugby afterall. As the legs tire, the class rises to the top.

It's a bit of a heartbreaker as the format, realistically, means this was a must-win game. Hopefully we can beat Fiji in what could be a largely even match.

  • 5.
  • At 08:04 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Rick wrote:

For a country that prides itself on rugby, Wales really need to improve their World Cup history. If we look at history only 5 teams have ever reached the final and they must for this reason be catergorised as the great nations of world rugby, not Wales.

They are:
Australia (two win and three world cup finals)
New Zealand (one win and two final appearances)
England (one win and two world cup finals)
South Africa (one win)
France (two world cup finals appearances)

Wales - for all the woohaa about our history we have never reached the promised land.

The troubling time Canada gave Wales early on means that Australia - who dominated throughout their first game - could pinch a win if they edge ahead at the start of the match. It seems that in recent months Wales have been slow starters.

  • 7.
  • At 09:39 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Frank Rizzo wrote:

I didn't think Wales did too badly. Canada are not a bad side and certainly did better than everyone thought when they came to New Zealand recently. Out of the NH teams I would say Wales & perhaps Scotland should be happiest after round 1. Having said this I can not see how Wales are going to beat Ausssie. I just hope Wales can surprise me like they did after a poor start at the last world cup.

  • 8.
  • At 09:40 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Alun wrote:


Are you new to rugby? The world cup is a relatively new event, it only started in 1987. Rugby has been played since the late 1800s. Why not educate yourself. I suggest you start with a DVD of Wales the Golden Years!


  • 9.
  • At 12:10 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Sue wrote:

Was pleased to see Wales trying to play good rugby even though it didn't always come off. The back row looked very strong and the lineout much better. I think James Hook is going to be a great fly half for the future, but when he was on the back line was a bit flat. When Jones came on they immediately dropped back and were much more effective when they had room to run. Looking forward to the next game and hope Wales get into their stride a bit sooner!

  • 10.
  • At 01:40 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Matt Rees wrote:

Alun - I'm with you on that one.

No doubt if there was a world cup in the 70's would have wiped the floor with out a shadow of a doubt.

Admittidly we are not where we would like to be right now, lets hope for a few suprises and that the the ADMIN idiots in the Millenium Stadium sought out the future of the game if only to GET BACK at RICK

  • 11.
  • At 07:56 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Couldn't agree more with ExileNick, and I speak as someone who played for 20 years, and even at the low level rugby I played, I always tried to ensure that my kicks found touch or I'd be screamed at by Captain, pack and coach. We have done this all year - given away what modest possession we had with loose, sometimes panicky, kicks. If we kick to the likes of Latham on Saturday the Aussies will crucify us.

  • 12.
  • At 09:24 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

Hook's kicking out of hand is his one weakness that pretty much everyone knows about (including the lad himself). But he has time to work on it, so everyone should give him a bit of a break (he's only been in the 15-man game at top level for a bit over a year for god's sake)! Jones should be the more secure option in that respect on Saturday, with Hook in his rightful place as an impact sub (as bright as SJ looked, he surely can't be fully match fit yet).

  • 13.
  • At 10:10 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Ieuan Johns wrote:

Wales - for all the woohaa about our history we have never reached the promised land.


Nice to see that History (according to you) starts in the mid 1980s

  • 14.
  • At 10:33 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Hopper wrote:

My concern is that we will concede too many tries from the Oz forwards like we did against both England & Canada(!) recently. If that happens, then for all the lovely running rugby we can play we'll lose badly.

  • 15.
  • At 12:02 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • iolo madoc-jones wrote:

i think the performance of the lesser rugby nations in this tournament highlights just how important motivation and commitment are in producing a good performance. Hopefully the team will be up for it on friday and that will close the skills gap between us and the Aussies. Sadly, there was little sign that the players were motivated for the canada game. We only really won because we were fitter and so they got tired. I accept what Ryan says about there not being much space early on in International rugby but i think he misses the point. There wasn't much space for either team and Canada dominated. Its not as if wave after wave of Welsh attack was being snuffed out. for 40 minutes I would say canada were marginally the better team. Things only really changed when they got tired.

  • 16.
  • At 12:57 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Hicksy wrote:

Lets look at the positives. We have a win and despite Canada tiring in the 2nd half, I believe we produced the best rugby of the home nations on the opening weekend. I think Thomas should start in place of Morgan on Saturday and S Jones should certainly start with Hook coming on for the last 25 mins to give the Aussies some food for thought. Hook and Jones offer 2 different types of games and I think we need both to beat the Aussies. The question is, do we have a squad capable of quickly adapting to a swift change in gameplan. I'd like to think we do, given our good recent record against Aussies. Tight 5 will be crucial to secure the possesion for our backs to fire. Duncan Jones over Jenkins I think.... We are definately missing R Jones, G Henson and B Cockbain. Roof closed, Kathryn Jenkins singing, home advantage - we will never have a better opportunity to beat the Aussies...

I just think my motherland's players are compulsive under dogs. They look great until they are expected to win then freeze. I have no idea why they dislike the idea of being considered the favourite to win a game - that should be a good thing.

As they showed briefly against England and against Australia when they are under dogs they can dominate right up until they become favoured to win the game when they can choke horribly.

I just do not understand it. What happened to the arrogance and swagger of the 70s team? When did this gutless under dogism take hold? It is just sad for me growing up when I did.

Thanks for all your comments.

I'll be posting a new blog entry some time tomorrow - look out for my thoughts ahead of Saturday's game.

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