Nick Mullins

Expectation weighs heavily on Jenkins (26)

Nantes - Honestly, who’d be a coach this weekend?

The knock-out phase of the World Cup is effectively under way and all the men who’ve picked the teams and formulated the game plans can do now is sit back and hope they’re smiling come Sunday evening.

Even though the chilly winds of autumn have arrived big time over here, Eddie O’Sullivan, Frank Hadden and Brian Ashton will all be feeling the heat over the next couple of days.

I’d venture to suggest none of them will feel it more than Gareth Jenkins.

Graham Henry has to win the prize for the least enviable job in world rugby at the moment. I hear even he’s getting it in the neck back home at the moment for the way the All Blacks are progressing through the tournament.


I’d nominate Jenkins for the runners-up spot, though. Just like Henry, or say Steve McClaren in the round-ball game, he’s in charge of a team who are a national obsession.

They care in England, Scotland and Ireland, but will victory or defeat stir the emotion quite as much as it will in Wales?

The thought struck me while I listened to news from the other camps during a chat on 5live on Thursday night.

It also struck me - while I sat next to my ISDN line in the basement of our hotel next to the laundry room and the ladies loo - that Andrew Cotter - reflecting on Scotland’s situation from a lively sounding pub called the Glasgow in St Etienne - had much the better gig.

Jenkins has a contract that takes him to the end of the next Six Nations, and whispers in and around the Welsh camp suggest he needs something special over the next fortnight or so in Nantes and Marseille to earn himself another one.

So much depends on the selection he’s made for Saturday. Is his continued loyalty to Dwayne Peel wise? Michael Phillips has said all the right things publicly over the last couple of days, but inwardly he must be seething.

Has Jenkins been right to ignore calls back in Cardiff to drop the lightweight Shane Williams for a quarter-final eliminator with some heavyweight South Sea Islanders? On the other wing, Mark Jones will be anxious to rediscover his best form as well.

And what about Ian Evans? He and Alun Wyn Jones may well develop into one of the finest second rows in the game over the next few years, but how bold for a coach - picking perhaps the most important team of his life - to start with someone who’s played precisely 28 minutes so far this year.

For what it’s worth, I can’t see Fiji upsetting the Welsh apple cart. They’ll bash some heads for a while and, with the likes of Ratuvou, Little, Rauluni and Rawaqa (who you might remember scored a fantastic try in Cardiff a couple of years ago), they’ve got individual ability to pose questions.

Their set-piece is a bit of a shambles, though. Wales are bound to target that area and secure plenty of possession.

It ought to be Wales’ day. It ought to be Gareth Thomas’s, on what he reckons will be the most emotional of his life. And it ought to be Gareth Jenkins’s day.

Surely Wales will be on the flight to Marseille rather than the one to Cardiff come Monday and the two Gareths can go through it all again next weekend.

Nick Mullins is a BBC Sport commentator on several sports and specialises in rugby union. He is covering Wales at the World Cup for Radio 5 live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:00 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Welshcol wrote:

Gareth Jenkins and Wales should do it tomorrow but in all honesty I think we will be struggling to go any further.
Gareth and the team have played the "Welsh" may which has inherent risks and the more experienced and on form the opposition so the risks increase. They deserve to get to the next stage of the World Cup and we can start the post-mortem after that. God luck to all and play with pride in the jersey and the game and you cannot ask for much more.

  • 2.
  • At 09:50 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Michael Gale, Austin, Texas wrote:

The Welsh will win and 25 out of 30 times they would lose in the quarter finals. Lets have a bit more faith and hope for one of those 5 out of 30 occasions.

  • 3.
  • At 10:03 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • mike wrote:


i agree - its bye bye after quarters !

Change of topic - cant there be a change in rules where the 2nd half begins where 1st half left off. Tonight we saw Gomersall just boot the ball out as the 40 mins were up , it would keep the game flowing

  • 4.
  • At 10:40 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • rob wrote:

We'll beat Fiji, no problem, and I have a sneaky feeling that we might get past Bokke in the quarters. They haven't been that flash and even against England their were some poor errors by them. We NH teams need to get over this instinct that the SH will always be better tham us. Wales, on their day could easily beat South Africa! Let's have some optimism!!!!!!

  • 5.
  • At 12:49 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Steve Detroit wrote:

I am pleased Ian Evans is being given a chance because we will need him against Matlock. I am worried about Horsman and the number of penalties he will give away but maybe Fiji are not street wise enough to take advantage of him. I am sure we will pull away in the last 25 minutes. Gareth has had alot of stick but he is a true Welshman with passion that many do not understand and he will be stout in defense against the on average 1 stone heavier Fiji's (14 lbs to American friends). Come on the boys .... and I am not so sure the SA are as confident as they make out. As we all know, you can never trust a Welshman to underperform.

  • 6.
  • At 11:20 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Curtis wrote:

There's a reason Gareth Jenkin's job is on the line and it's not simply due to winning or losing against Fiji or South Africa next week (assuming we win today). It's to do with the quality of performances his teams have produced over the last 18 months. This squad is still largely the one that won the grand slam in such a wonderful and skillful manner. That Jenkins and his coaching staff have managed to knock the skill and confidence out of predominantly good, skillful players and forced them to play a conservative, unsuited gameplan is quite an achievement. The incivise running angles and support play of 2005 has been replaced by lateral running, while the set piece has gone from fit for purpose to basket case. It's enough to make you cry.
We Welsh often over react to results, win or lose, but Jenkin's desparture from the job is overdue.

  • 7.
  • At 12:22 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • pontyboy wrote:

i agree gareth jenkins seems to have ruined a once very good side, a real lack of international coaching experience from all of the coaches in the welsh set up is glaringly obvious.the backs and forward coaches have very little club coaching pedigree let alone on a world stage

  • 8.
  • At 12:31 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • John Smith wrote:

if wales go out - the vast majority of the country will have moved on to something else by tuesday

The Wales Fiji game cannot go by without mention to the incomparable Gareth Thomas! Alfie will become the first Welshman to win 100 international caps for his country this weekend and I couldn’t think of a better man to break the milestone.

I don’t remember his first cap with it being so long ago (I’ll have to ask my dad about that) but for the ones I do remember, firstly watching on TV then later walking out behind him to play, I can honestly say the man is an inspiration and I’m honoured to have shared a field with him and I know I speak for countless others too.

Good luck Ga and good luck Wales and the rest of the Home Unions. The quarter-finals await!

  • 10.
  • At 03:43 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • David HURST wrote:

I don't agree with this post, I don't think winning or losing is more important, nor the managers job under more scrutiny than in England for example.

How many times have wales lost to tri-nations teams, and been credited for their plucky effort ?

i hope it goes ok for you against fiji ... but to be honest, you're all expecting to go out in the quaters.
If the managers not making a good job of it he'll be replaced, but can anyone really say he'll be more than a national villain as say, andy robinson was ... ? i think not.

As for henry .... as long as he's winning it won't be too bad, but admittedly, the AB fans expect nothing less, and have reason to do so - because they've got a team that are sh@t hot from players 1-30 ...

  • 11.
  • At 05:47 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

HAHA serves the british journalists right. they always disregard the south sea island teams yet they play the most pure form of rugby. Shame on wales. Go Fiji!

  • 12.
  • At 05:52 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Joe Robins wrote:

Wales were appauling..

For ex-grand slam winners our defence was not up to scratch..

With the exception of some dangerous tackles Fiji deserved it..

Jenkins out

We need a coach that knows how to get the best out of Hook and Steven Jones!

Joe, Cambridge

  • 13.
  • At 06:03 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Dear Gareth Jenkins,

Just resign and please take your team with you. You were ten years too late in the post and have failed your nation. Well done Fiji on a brilliant performance but I am sick of the Welsh excuses and was ashamed of their pathetic first half pathetic display.

Let's get a new coach for the 6 nations and start building - AGAIN!

  • 14.
  • At 06:10 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Our defensive line was ragged and the kicking game (which we can't even execute) introduced by Jenkins produced nothing again. Wales only managed to play while Fiji were down to 14 men. Gareth Jenkins has sucessfully taken Welsh rugby back by 10 years. He and his coaching team are out of their depth and have squandered yet another World Cup.

I hope Gareth will have the dignity to resign.

  • 15.
  • At 06:21 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • barry john lander wrote:

all through this week in work, i have been telling my colleagues that fiji could be the un-doing of wales and jenkins

it's with a very heavy heart that my premonition has come true.

you have to wonder whether the tactics employed by the welsh lads were truly thought out.

the other group (samoa, tonga etc) matches prior to the welsh against fiji should have given adequate warning of the pacific islanders type of game.

and what do the welsh do, play straight into fiji's hand for most of the game.

mike ruddock must be laughing his socks off, and i personally cant blame him. its typical of the wru. get rid of the person who takes us to a grand slam, then see what happens.

history repeats itself quite frighteningly.

the furthest wales have reached is 3rd in the 1987 world cup, followed by a triple crown in 1988.

what do we do in wales to the coach, at tht time Tony Gray.Yes, you've got it get rid of a successful coach..

I dont blame the boys on the pitch, you never go into a game wanting to lose, its those boys above, who should be doing thier homework. it's what the rest of the world seem to be doing.....

Ah well lets see what we can do by 2011!!!!

  • 16.
  • At 06:25 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • David Morris wrote:

Just like to say Well done to Fiji they were easily the better side and for Gareth Jenkins, theres a message for you on this link below, butt!!!

  • 17.
  • At 06:28 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • L P Ashmead wrote:

Gutted to the core. I didn't expect that!!!
I've just burned my RWC jersey that cost me £70, i figured i'll never wear it again.
The Flames only briefly took away my pain. We shouldn't have lost this one

Well done Fiji.
Jenkins and coaching team must now go. There was a mis match in the physical game, we didn't kick well tactically or at goal. How many points lost through missed kicks??? Could have been a different result!

Gutted to be Welsh at the moment.

  • 18.
  • At 06:30 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • derek jones wrote:

wales were terrible ,we made fiji look good .Jenkings should go he is up to club standard but not international.The wispering capaign against ruddoch has shown how bad wales got it wrong.Back to the drawing board.Be thankful you do not live in england.

  • 19.
  • At 06:34 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Welshcol wrote:

Well the worst happened we lost but played well-in parts!!.
Having difficulty typing this since have lost my fingernails!!.
If it was any other team playing other than Wales I would have enjoyed every minute with the end to end plays and the associated mistakes making it so exciting. The "impartial" French must have enjoyed every minute.
Well the worst has now happened wales coming home and England going to the 1/4 rs after playing poorly - what justice is there??.
Well a few pints now and suggest team and Gareth Jenkins do the same & watch the game again next week. Those who should and deserve to fall on their swords should get out sooner rather than later and lets move on.
With hindsight Gareth Thomas should
not have been there and but for the sake of his 100th cap may not have been because he certainly was not 100% in terms of fitness, captaincy and commitment which are normally there in abundance.
Anyway another pint scheduled- well done lads for playing with pride and good luck to Fiji.

  • 20.
  • At 06:35 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • r0nin wrote:

Well done Fiji, but you have to say Wales played right into their hands... It was a terrific rollercoaster of a game and at the end of the day the best team won.

Gypo has to go... i'll be amazed if he lasts the weekend... His tactics today where unbelieveably bad... the kickoffs where about as hopeless as watching a third rate outfit trying to start the game...

Maybe the result today is the right wakeup call for the WRU.

  • 21.
  • At 06:38 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Luke wrote:

What a game! I had a horrible feeling that the Fijians exuberance would lead to a Welshman getting decapitated, but apart from a couple of high tackles they deserved the win. Hard to tell from the replays, but I thought Qera's sending off was OTT, as was Jone's reaction to it.

Lastly, and sartorially, I thought Wales looked awful in those shirts, particularly the backs. Does them no favours, and makes them look worse than England (and that's saying something...)

  • 22.
  • At 06:43 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Rees wrote:

Hopefully Gareth Thomas retires.Gareth Jenkins and his backroom staff will gracefully resign. Bring back Mike Ruddock, even if the WRU have to get on their hands and knees.

  • 23.
  • At 07:09 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • legin wrote:

Doh !

  • 24.
  • At 07:17 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Stephen Evans wrote:

Can't agree with alot of the above. Don't forget it's the welsh public who wanted Gareth Jenkins.

A lot will be made of Gareth Jenkins approach and tactics for this RWC but when you look at the performances you've got to look at the players. They let themselves down, didn't perform and were found short in many key areas of the game. Individual players made the wrong choices at key points in every game.

I've seen Wales facilities. They are superb, these players have all the tools they need but in their heads they must also play the game as well as their bodies. Gareth Jenkins will take all the flak and time and time again he defends his players but surely now they must put their hands up and say they've let themselves, the coaching staff and the country down.

  • 25.
  • At 07:47 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Donald from Fiji wrote:

Well, well, who is laughing now? Everyone wrote Fiji off, scrum wont work, set pieces is in a mess... I guess the Fijian camp is laughing now. When will you so call pundits learn, that the pride the small island nations take into the game is not measured by the purse string they earn. Wales was able to deal with the scrum and lineout; it just couldnt match the passion. Learn Wales learn. You did not learn from Samoa twice before. I hope you will learn from Fiji. Go Fiji Go.

  • 26.
  • At 07:58 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

you see if gavin henson was in this world cup squad he would add a little bit or extra ingredient to the team. Hook cannot play with Jones, only one should play 10 and shanklins true partner in midfield was always Gavin, they should have risked it. with gavin he gives an extra kicking option, he is fast, a very good tackler and has an eye for a gap. Hook is a 10 not a 12. wales also should have bought cockbain as he brings more physicality and mobility to the lock

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