BBC.co.uk

From the volcano to the cauldron

  • Sean Davies - BBC Wales Sport journalist
  • 2 Feb 07, 02:28 PM

s_davies_6666.gifwal_badge.gifCardiff - Altitude training and an escape from the all-consuming Six Nations build-up with a stay in Tenerife was the meticulously planned schedule for this year’s Championship.

I’m not sure whether this would have worked for any of the squads, but my pre-tournament jolly didn’t quite maximise my effectiveness for the mighty tasks to come.

The Wales team announcement should have been done and dusted by the time I plunged back into work, with time to build up the battles before heading down to the Millennium Stadium for the Ireland game on Sunday. But nothing is ever that straightforward in Welsh rugby – certainly not when Gareth Thomas is involved.

There were suggestions that the magma chamber was filling before I flew to the volcanic isle, the remarkable pictures coming out of Toulouse indicating that trouble was brewing.

But I didn’t realise that Alfie had blown his top with a ferocity to rival anything pumped out by Mount Teide.

I’d like to claim that the Canary Islands were in the grip of Six Nations fever last week – but on reflection I think it was just me.

Tuning in to Sky News (hey, the apartment didn’t have BBC…) on Monday for the Wales team announcement, my own embers began to fire – I blame all the sulphur that riddles the local vino.

There was the lead sport story, Wilkinson recalled by England… But where was the Welsh team news?

Amid much cursing over the bias of the London media, I dashed to the award-winning, ever-reliable and generally fantastic BBC website to see the news that Wales’ announcement was delayed.

So, British Airways having just about managed to get me home, I was plunged straight into Thursday’s chaos – the team named – Alfie picked – Alfie banned Alfie lambasted. What’s it all about?

But a Sunday game gives us just about enough time to get over the drama and muse on the important stuff.

Gareth Jenkins has muscled up his pack in the hope of ‘doing a Leicester’ on the Munster-dominated Ireland pack.

A sensible tactic or another example of Jenkins’ over-caution? I’m not sure, but I feel that Duncan Jones is hard done by and the thought of a Welsh pack bullying Ireland out of a game seems hopeful.

The depleted three-quarters are the major concern, of course, and Jamie Robinson – discarded by former Wales coach Steve Hansen because he didn’t like his walk – will need to up his defensive game against O’Driscoll and D’Arcy.

I’m still scratching my head over why Dafydd James has been ignored, and would feel much happier with him at outside centre or on one of the flanks.

All logic tells me to expect a comfortable Ireland win, but there’s a sneaking optimism lurking in me that the men in green will fail to live up to their billing and that a Wales victory is looming.

It could be delusion, but I’ll be blogging from the stadium on Sunday so you can ridicule me to your heart’s content then.


Comments  Post your comment

Gareth Thomas is still one of Wales best current crop of players and regardless of any reckless off pitch behaviour he is too good a player to be left out of the Welsh squad permanently.
JJ Williams is yesterdays man and should realize that he is no longer a leading light in Welsh rugby and save his opinions for his local pub.

  • 2.
  • At 08:35 PM on 02 Feb 2007,
  • Gareth Rees wrote:

Has Gareth Jenkins realised this should be the first team?

  • 3.
  • At 10:02 PM on 02 Feb 2007,
  • Iwan wrote:

Totally agree about Dafydd James' exclusion, he's quite clearly wales' in form winger of those left, and could play at 13 to bolster the defence. However Ireland always start slowly, and maybe this year they won't have the TMO quite so on their side (a la Italy last year!). Ireland on paper should win, especially since they were 2nd in the world at one point (or was it 3rd?) but it is Cardiff, and all it needs is one decision or one good play by Wales to get the crowd going, and then the pressure will really be on Ireland to start playing like we think they can. For me, Wales 25 v Ireland 23 (O'Gara to miss a deciding 6N penalty).

  • 4.
  • At 12:04 AM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Ridicule? No, thats a bit harsh. Although I do agree that an Irish victory is on the cards. Confident (but still slightly cautious) Irish man in Holland

  • 5.
  • At 02:58 AM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • paul moore wrote:

To Think that the heavily munsterered Irish pack will be out-muscled is a great gamble.... it will not pay out. The munster(Irish)Pack have to much pride, let alone experience, to let it happen twice in a row and will win plenty of ball to let the 3/4's ware down the red shirts and with a couple of late scores Ireland will win by a decent margin after a close 60 minutes.

  • 6.
  • At 12:27 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Wales Big Pack?? Are we not frogetting that mesers Gough and Jones have/do play with the number six on their back. There is no out and out flier in the Welsh team, so no-one should run away from support, I disagree with the comment that Ireland will score late tries, I believe that if Wales are in contention after 60 mins, Jenks can bring Dunc J, Sid and Mike Phillips onto the field and we will then start to turn the screw on a tiring Irish pack. Never liked Daf James but have to admit that he is playing well this year and would give added bulk to the back line, instead of Luscomb.

Pint is allways half full - Wales win and onto the Grandslam.

  • 7.
  • At 12:31 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Wales Big Pack?? Are we not frogetting that mesers Gough and Jones have/do play with the number six on their back. There is no out and out flier in the Welsh team, so no-one should run away from support, I disagree with the comment that Ireland will score late tries, I believe that if Wales are in contention after 60 mins, Jenks can bring Dunc J, Sid and Mike Phillips onto the field and we will then start to turn the screw on a tiring Irish pack. Never liked Daf James but have to admit that he is playing well this year and would give added bulk to the back line, instead of Luscomb.

Pint is allways half full - Wales win and onto the Grandslam.

  • 8.
  • At 01:01 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • John Elliott wrote:

I remember that Alex Evans 'muscled up' the Wales pack to play the All Blacks in the 1995 World Cup. It didn't work then and I don't think it's going to work now.

But then again, we live in hope......

  • 9.
  • At 05:35 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Barry Cross wrote:

Johnny Wilkinson back and England back to the old days of being a one man band.
Scotland witless no game plan and no tactics.

  • 10.
  • At 05:59 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • johnmcnally467@btinternet.com wrote:

the standard of the rugby commentary this afternoon for the England Scotland match was appalling - when you look back at the excellent commentarys of the past which were informed, objective and added to the occasion todays just seemed to have two guys trying to score off each other and generally unprofessional

  • 11.
  • At 07:58 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • kevin baz wrote:

glass half full? thin edge of wedge ?
lets face it big questions on selection. like the pack selection though would like cockbain physicality to come off the bench, sidoli is he match fit enough? lets Goughy bust his butt for 50 min and then let cockbain turn the screw. prefer Daf to luscombe on any planet, jamie has quality and underrated as a defender will be ok, relation with wingers could be paramount anyone remember how cardiff winger tries dried up at cardiff when Ringo left, does much unseen or less glam work than given credit for and have seen him split top level defence from first phase with vision and angles of running. Would perhaps have chosen ringer or charvis from the bench over thomas as more versatile and more abrasive, both less likely to pick the biggests nastiest foward on the field and run at him in his own 22 and turn the ball over. last question who covers full back if kev gets injured (tends to do this a lot, great player though lots depends on his vision and ability to hit the line around centre field at pace)
anyway Wales to win narrow tomorrow and go onto grand slam with full strength team cutting england to shreds all over the field

  • 12.
  • At 08:00 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • kevin baz wrote:

what does darren daniel have to do to get into he wales training squad
pace, power and skills , can also cover full back, get him nurtured and sorted don't let him go the same way as Craig Morgan, and losss his confidence and skills

  • 13.
  • At 09:33 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • john savage wrote:

I don't know what match barry cross was watching, I didn't see a one man band out there, I saw a more integrated better structured side dismantling an inferior side for large parts of the game, and a kicker who converted a large proportion of kicks. Who turned over ball after kick off for johnny to convert a drop goal? I think the pack have as much to do with winning today as any body on the pitch. Ellis was awesome, everybody had a great game bar none. Wilko converted the effort into points which is what you would expect of any player worth his salt.

  • 14.
  • At 10:33 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Powysman wrote:

I am very worried that Jenkins thinks that we can outmuscle the Irish pack. 2/3 of the front row is the cardiff front row which did not get much change out of Munster in HC. Horsman is a vastly better srummaging prop than thos available at tight head for Cardiff. I am also worried that we do not have any real lineout presence - neither the locks are geat lineout jumpers. In the back row whilst it looks powerful there is no specialist number 6. I hope that Popham does not rush out of the defensive line to try to make big hits as he did twice against NZ leaving a massive hole. I am even more worried about the backs. Ireland have settled units throughout the team - lock, halfback,centre. By kick off i always believe Wales will win.

  • 15.
  • At 10:36 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Nige Tonge wrote:

Listened to the commentary and argument between Brian Moore & Eddie Butler, well done Brian for being honest throughout - time to get rid of Butler as he is so biased against England and a totally boring.

  • 16.
  • At 08:11 AM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

Brian Moore does not know how to be impartial. England handled in the ruck
at every opportunity. They took advantage of ineffectual officials. Donald Courtney should not be alloewd to referee another six nations match this season. Scotland were undone by their own incompetence and not by anything England did. They Wilkinson too much respect and did not concentrate on their own game. Paterson has to be the stand off and rob Dewey must play in the centre

  • 17.
  • At 11:09 AM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

Brian Moore is a bigoted cheater. He is consistently patial to England, and here are a couple of Brian Moore quotes -

'it's only cheating if you're caught, ho ho ho!'

'that's illegal that is - you need to be much more subtle if you're going to get away with it, that's what good forward play is all about'

Every time something went against England 'that's a penalty, that is', but when clear penalties for Scotland were not given, 'we were right lucky there, we were.'

The big argument (or one of them at least) yesterday was whether or not Wilkinson was pushed off the ball by a Scottish back (Patterson?). What happened was that the ball bounced funny, changing direction. Both players had to check and go the other way, and because Patterson was behind Wilkinson, they collided and Wilko fell over. It looked like a push because Patterson's hands came up in the incident.

Moore could barely restrain himself. He could not concede that Butler may have had a point, that there was even room for discussion on it. Typical, stubborn, narrow-minded, blind, stupefying, dizzying, for-God-and-the-Queen, superior, wilfully ignorant rant from the short, fat, bald, fool of a man.

I'm with Eddie on this one, and frankly I'm stunned that with so many young Rugby players watching Moore is allowed to continue. I suspect that the English powers that be are blind to it, of course.

  • 18.
  • At 11:54 AM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Ray wrote:

I agree with Tony- I was amazed that Moore completely refused to concede that his colleague might even had had a point.

Also at half time did anyone else note that the 'highlights' seemed to be more a photoshoot for Johnny Wilkinson rather than anything else...maybe that's the way to get viewing figures up?

  • 19.
  • At 12:10 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • adrian wrote:

Typical Anti English ranting!!

It used to ammuse me but now its just boring.

Kevin Baz, Wales to win Grand Slam??? your kidding me right???

Cant wait to see the game tonight!!!

  • 20.
  • At 12:25 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 21.
  • At 12:30 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 22.
  • At 12:30 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 23.
  • At 12:31 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 24.
  • At 12:32 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 25.
  • At 12:33 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 26.
  • At 12:35 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 27.
  • At 12:36 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Emlyn Williams wrote:

This is what Bill McClaren had to say on his role as the BBC's voice of rugby: "There is nothing worse than a commentator who is blatantly biased. You are not being professional and doing your job properly if you are guilty of that." Alas, neither Eddie Butler nor Brian Moore comprehend the meaning of the word "impartiality" - witness yesterday's Calcutta Cup match - and are, once again, guilty of bringing the art of unbiased commentary into disrepute with their witless pontificating. Send them off, ref (Head of Sport, BBC), and bring on a couple of fresh faces who can show more respect for Bill McClaren's maxim of impartiality.

  • 28.
  • At 12:43 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Will wrote:

Please, stop being so hypersensitive! The 'ranting' is clearly against the buffoon that is Brian Moore, not against England. Moore is a poor commentator, and always will be as long as he keeps up his appalling bias, arrogance, and total contempt for sportsmanlike conduct. For a man in his position to condone foul play as he so often does is utterly irresponsible, and I wonder how on earth he is still in a job. And by the way - well done to England yesterday, and to JW especially. They played extremely well, and deserve a far better ambassador than Brian Moore.

  • 29.
  • At 12:48 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Will wrote:

Please, stop being so hypersensitive! The 'ranting' is clearly against the buffoon that is Brian Moore, not against England. Moore is a poor commentator, and always will be as long as he keeps up his appalling bias, arrogance, and total contempt for sportsmanlike conduct. For a man in his position to condone foul play as he so often does is utterly irresponsible, and I wonder how on earth he is still in a job. And by the way - well done to England yesterday, and to JW especially. They played extremely well, and deserve a far better ambassador than Brian Moore.

  • 30.
  • At 06:00 PM on 10 Feb 2007,
  • George wrote:

Wikinson is total rubbish!

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