- 30 Sep 07, 05:50 PM
Well, the result that it seems every rugby fan in Wales has been screaming out for has come about and coach Gareth Jenkins has got the boot.
Some of the posters on 606 and other forums have even suggested that one of the blackest results in Wales’ history – the 38-34 defeat to Fiji that dumped them out of the World Cup – was worth it to secure his end.
But I have to buck the trend and express sympathy for Jenkins, who has never truly been able to put his stamp on the team.
And as we finally accept that the 2005 ‘golden generation’ was nothing but a myth, I would suggest that a number of the senior players have got out lightly from the blood-letting blame-game.
While I’ve never doubted Jenkins’ passion and commitment to Welsh rugby, I was not an advocate of his getting the national job, that’s for sure.
His entire career had been spent as an old-school coach at Llanelli, and - though he had his share of success at that level - his tactics in the biggest Heineken Cup games had been negative and defensive, and ultimately led to failure.
Despite that, Jenkins was simply the only man in a position to get the country back behind the squad when he took over 17 months ago.
But it is questionable how much influence he has actually had on the team, and – despite all his talk of “physicality” - the only change in tactics from the Scott Johnson reign seemed to be the introduction of a woeful kicking policy that left Wales wide open to counter attack.
Jenkins took charge of a squad filled with senior players, whose position had been cemented by the memorable 2005 Grand Slam triumph.
They have been consistent advocates of the so-called “Welsh Way”, a brand of all-out attack that worked perfectly – some may say miraculously – in 2005.
Before the Fiji match, the entire squad repeated the mantra that Wales must have no fear of playing their way, that they would take the islanders on at their own game and run them off the park.
The 10 minutes of attacking rugby produced by Wales at the start of the second half against Fiji shows just how enticing this conception of rugby can be.
But the clueless first half simply displayed blinkered vision, Wales failing to capitalise on their set-piece advantage, running penalties that should have been belted deep into opposition territory, exposing themselves to the Fijians’ big hits, and spilling dangerous turnover ball.
To set Ruddock’s reign in context, for the last 20 years of what has been – by and large – rugby misery for Wales, a first-choice national XV has been capable of competing at world level.
Graham Henry’s ‘Great Redeemer’ act was to cut a swathe through the internal politics, get the best XV on the pitch, and deliver a winning game plan.
Henry’s reputation won him the respect of the players, giving him the authority to deliver success.
But in the goldfish bowl of Welsh rugby, players began to believe their own hype, Henry lost the dressing room – and Wales’ limited resources meant he could not find players of the necessary calibre outside the squad.
Hansen’s work behind the scenes has been rightly praised and his development of the squad’s conditioning and professionalism was clear to see.
But he was never a winning coach, and it took Ruddock’s mixture of pragmatism and adventure to deliver success.
When Wales edged to an 11-10 win over Fiji in 2005 – one of the worst performances of Ruddock’s reign – the coach was pleased that his side had shown the ability to win tight games, a crucial pushover try exploiting the islanders’ set-piece weakness.
But splits over tactics were already clear in the camp, Scott Johnson having the backing of the players for a style of all-out attack that proved disastrous at Twickenham in 2006.
The details of Ruddock’s departure have still to be revealed, but with Johnson back in Australia Jenkins was taking charge of a tight squad with their own vision of the way forward.
The coach said before the World Cup that he hoped to get at least four years in the job, a period that would allow him to mould his own squad with many of the stalwarts leaving the scene.
Jenkins departs with a miserable record of six wins from 20 games that is hard to defend.
But it is well to remember the hurdles he faced, barriers that it will perhaps take another foreign coach to surmount.
Sean Davies is a BBC Sport journalist based in Cardiff.