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Bruce Pope

Wales the Lionhearts (20)

Seen posted on the door of the Wales dressing room in the bowels of the Millennium Stadium are words of inspiration attributed to the King of England.

I know what you're thinking: "Has Lizzie finally stepped down and let number one son have a go at last, but he's still made the time to big-up Gareth Jenkins' boys due to his previous role as Prince of Wales?"

No, the words helping to get the hwyl flowing for Saturday's Pool B clash with Australia have come echoing down the ages, uttered towards the end of the 12th century.

"For though the Welsh may be routed today, tomorrow they are ready for another campaign, quite undaunted by their losses.

"They are deterred neither by hunger nor cold, fighting does not exhaust them, nor adversity cause them to despair.

"After an overthrow they immediately rise again, ready to face the hazard of warfare once more."

Stirring stuff and even more so when they've been tagged next to the name of Richard I - "The Lionheart" to his mates (and a few of his foes as well, forsooth!).

Our medieval Welsh history scholar in the office, Sean, tells me the they were actually from some fella called Gerald of Wales - same era, different beast.

Maybe with France being the hosts for this World Cup, old Richie's roots in Aquitaine had more of a resonance than some clergy geezer who had his feet in both English and Welsh camps at the time!

But the historical accuracy of this little gem scarcely matters, this is all about belief and how to build it.

Wales' players had been given a folder before their 2005 Grand Slam campaign. It detailed past achievements of Welshmen and Welshwomen and contained uplifting quotations from the great and the good. This is more of the same, with the prize even bigger this time.

You can do all the training, get the preparation, nutrition and tactics spot-on and it won't do you a bit of good without some fire in the belly to take on to the pitch. And you know I'm not talking about a cheeky vindaloo the night before...

England's is a bit more understated as they head into Friday night's clash with South Africa, us Anglo-Saxons being less poetic in nature than the Celts as everyone knows.

It merely reads 'STW' - short for 'Shock The World'. I'm willing to believe it refers to the whole tournament for Brian Ashton's boys, not just Wednesday's announcement that Andy Farrell was the new fly-half.

That let the cat out of the bag and then the next day, after some serious enquiry by the disbelieving world's press, let the Catt back into the number 10 shirt.

Sometimes the speech can be as simple as a call to action, such as Willie John McBride on the 1974 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa: "From now on, boys, we get our retaliation in first."

Of course a bad oratory can leave players flatter than they were before, with Gareth Southgate allegedly complaining about a less than rousing half-time speech by then-manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as England tumbled out of the 2002 football World Cup to Brazil: "We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead got Iain Duncan Smith."

What are your thoughts on the motivational techniques in this 2007 Rugby World Cup and what are the best, or worst, speeches you've heard to a team?

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Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:00 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • St. George wrote:

Dear Cymru,

Lets se if you're so vacuously flatulent after tomorrow's game.

  • 2.
  • At 10:18 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • St. George wrote:

Dear Cymru,

Lets se if you're so vacuously flatulent after tomorrow's game.

  • 3.
  • At 10:19 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • St. George wrote:

Dear Cymru,

Lets se if you're so vacuously flatulent after tomorrow's game.

  • 4.
  • At 10:25 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth Williams wrote:

I can hardly believe i just read this. How your cranium doesnt implode due to the vacuum is beyond me.

  • 5.
  • At 10:46 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • rob Fletcher wrote:

36-0 not as bad as I feared.

Was always going to happen who in their right minds didn't expect it. We should have used this world cup to blood younger players for the next one. I fear we've mised this trick as well.

  • 6.
  • At 11:38 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

"Cymru"... are you serious? what are you complaining about? There was nothing in the article to suggest anything along the lines of "typical", "English" nor "tosser".

The whole point was about the amount of belief a team needs/has before a game in order for them to do well, so I'm mystified where you got your reply from.

Being a (proud) Welshman myself I thought it was a good blog entry, being different to the style Tom and Ben's "on the other side of the journalistic fence" blogs are (which I do enjoy, seeing that I'm off next week to France and do not wish to repeat their mistakes).

So I'm curious where you actually came up with your reply from the article? Or are you another nations' fan looking to troll this reply board? or maybe too much S.A.?

  • 7.
  • At 11:44 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Daniel Murphy wrote:

the hwyl flowing? .... hwyl means goodbye in welsh...... :-/

  • 8.
  • At 12:02 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • mrog wrote:

I am reading this post AFTER the Eng Vs SA game and finding it hilarious!

  • 9.
  • At 12:23 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Alex Whomsley wrote:

Now now Daniel Murphy, don't let your ailing football career get you down - Fulham isn't the end of the world.

Hwyl as you well know, and despite your flippancy, means great enthusiasm or a kind of boisterous spirit. Realistically, it's more of a feeling or a way of behaving and it's real meaning is slightly more complicated: a bit like the gaelic craic, which means far more than the dictionary definition - it's an experience.

Doesn't matter much anyway, Bruce Pope makes a good point about belief because you can bet that the Australians expect to win, but will we have that belief?

England, from the body language, were fully expecting a pasting, and any little motivational tool that Wales can find to bring the hwyl out will be needed.

  • 10.
  • At 12:33 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Alex Whomsley wrote:

Now now Daniel Murphy, don't let your ailing football career get you down - Fulham isn't the end of the world.

Hwyl as you well know, and despite your flippancy, means great enthusiasm or a kind of boisterous spirit. Realistically, it's more of a feeling or a way of behaving and it's real meaning is slightly more complicated: a bit like the gaelic craic, which means far more than the dictionary definition - it's an experience.

Doesn't matter much anyway, Bruce Pope makes a good point about belief because you can bet that the Australians expect to win, but will we have that belief?

England, from the body language, were fully expecting a pasting, and any little motivational tool that Wales can find to bring the hwyl out will be needed.

  • 11.
  • At 12:48 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Alex Whomsley wrote:

Now now Daniel Murphy, don't let your ailing football career get you down - Fulham isn't the end of the world.

Hwyl as you well know, and despite your flippancy, means great enthusiasm or a kind of boisterous spirit. Realistically, it's more of a feeling or a way of behaving and it's real meaning is slightly more complicated: a bit like the gaelic craic, which means far more than the dictionary definition - it's an experience.

Doesn't matter much anyway, Bruce Pope makes a good point about belief because you can bet that the Australians expect to win, but will we have that belief?

England, from the body language, were fully expecting a pasting, and any little motivational tool that Wales can find to bring the hwyl out will be needed.

  • 12.
  • At 12:48 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Alex Whomsley wrote:

Now now Daniel Murphy, don't let your ailing football career get you down - Fulham isn't the end of the world.

Hwyl as you well know, and despite your flippancy, means great enthusiasm or a kind of boisterous spirit. Realistically, it's more of a feeling or a way of behaving and it's real meaning is slightly more complicated: a bit like the gaelic craic, which means far more than the dictionary definition - it's an experience.

Doesn't matter much anyway, Bruce Pope makes a good point about belief because you can bet that the Australians expect to win, but will we have that belief?

England, from the body language, were fully expecting a pasting, and any little motivational tool that Wales can find to bring the hwyl out will be needed.

  • 13.
  • At 07:54 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Evans wrote:

England 0 South Africa 36... No score, oh dear!
Cymru on the other hand, may or may not win, but we will enter the arena with fire in our hearts because unlike England, we do not expect a pasting and fully expect to score!

  • 14.
  • At 09:56 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • osian wrote:

38-0. Even the USA didnt lose that badly against you! You know I think that the Welsh mentality should be changed from "As long as we beat the english" to "As long as we win and the english get a well deserved kicking." Put it this way if we win today it'll only be the icing on the cake. It's funny because on the news the english rugby team obviously gets more publicity because they're english. And when talking about them the newsreader always says defending champions. Probably because they're afraid they won't be able to say it in any future world cups, if the South Affrica slaughter was anything to go by. It looked as if the english just gave them the game. How many times was the english defence all on one side of the field and the SA attack on the other? Sorry but my secondary school team is better than that.

  • 15.
  • At 10:02 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth Davies wrote:

I full expect Australia to win and convincingly at that but I know there is always a chance, just a chance that Wales may pull out a magnificent performance. And as per usual just lose and forever complain about the victory that should have been theirs.

I think its a credit to the state of English Rugby that they didn't get thumped a hell of a lot harder. There were moments in the second half where they could have been mistaken for a rugby side.

  • 16.
  • At 12:18 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Philip Richards wrote:

Rugby is a funny game. I bet all those poor souls who proclaim to support England will be holding their heads in shame this morning. Personally I think they should sort their own house out before pointing any criticism at Wales. God Speed to the Welsh Boys. I hope that the Aussies are taken to task and in the best interests of the game it would be good to see a open flowing game of rugby. Maybe just maybe Wales will be able to play well for long enough to show the world that the Welsh spirit and passion is still alive and well. At least the Welsh can muster a better staduium than the heap of rubble known as Twickenham. The MS awsome, built to budget and on time. It is also far superior to the stupid arch in Wembley.

  • 17.
  • At 12:26 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Philip Richards wrote:

Sorry I forgot to mention, at least the Welsh know how to have passion and commitment to a cause rather that whinge and whine like the English who seem so sterile and pompus, and never take defeat well.

  • 18.
  • At 12:47 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • bodhie wrote:

Come on you Aussie! Wales will get the same sort of kicking that England got...the difference is the English I spoke to accept that they were always going to lose it and need to start again...the Welsh still have the small minded attitude that they are back in the 70s when they had a team.

  • 19.
  • At 07:39 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • st david wrote:

We might have lost but at least we managed to put some points on the bored

  • 20.
  • At 07:51 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • st david wrote:

The trouble with you english is, you wish you had a team like wales had in the 70's

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