Wales (archive)

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Now That's What I Call Tom and Ben (in photos) (19)

Hang out the bunting, strike up the band, Tom and Ben are home.

Not quite in a jet draped with flags, awaiting a press corps and tumult of fans, more in a campervan, on a ferry, still wearing those flip-flops. And that vest. Probably.

So here's a best of Fordyce & Dirs, in photos and links to remind you of the past seven weeks' adventure.

You can check out all of their photos on

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Mark Orlovac

The Bloggys (70)

Waterloo station/ a cross channel ferry, Monday - As a final parting World Cup gift, myself, Tom and Ben (remember them?) thought we'd dish out a few prizes from the last seven weeks. First prize goes to all of you, obviously, for reading and joining in and making the blog what it is.

But after you lot, there have been some outstanding, and not so clever, achievements. Here's just a few. Let's call them "The Bloggys". (See if you can spot who wrote which ones!)

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Ryan Jones

And rugby was the winner... (49)

So it’s all over. After all the waiting, the hype and all the expectation, the tournament seemed to pass in the blink of an eye and leaves us with another four years to dwell over the next one.

What a tournament it was though. I think in hindsight, it will be regarded as the best yet for a number of reasons.

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John Beattie

Why all six nations should back England (419)

I know, I know, it might seem a crazy idea, but I’d like all Scots, Welsh, Irish, French and Italians to support England in the rugby World Cup final. What do you think?

Aaargh, stop throwing bricks at me and let me put forward my logic.

You see, when I was a wee boy growing up in Borneo, the UK seemed a long way away. But it also struck me that all of us in the Northern Hemisphere are quite like each other. For instance, you can’t say that someone a mile north of the Scottish border with England is markedly different from someone a mile south of it.

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Tom Fordyce

Sweet and sour memories of Marseille (84)

Marseille, Monday morning - There’s no two ways about it – that was without doubt the greatest sporting weekend I’ve ever been involved in.

Marseille this weekend has been a city drenched in beer, tension, disbelief, sorrow, happiness and wild, wide-eyed celebration.

Even now, with the streets finally emptying of campervans, sleeping fans and plastic pint pots, you can still almost feel the excitement bouncing off the sticky pavements.

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Ryan Jones

Barnes will inspire Australia to victory (89)

Swansea - Eight left and by the end of the weekend there will be four.

Which four that will be has yet to be determined, but what is for sure is that the make-up of the semis will be heavily influenced by the performances of each of the team’s key players.

Here’s my rundown on this weekend’s central figures and who will end up winners and losers.

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Ryan Jones

Another new chapter (81)

Swansea - Well what can I say?

What an absolutely torrid weekend. We’re out and our coach has gone.

I can’t say that I’m hugely surprised that Gareth was asked to vacate his position following the defeat on Saturday because history has shown us that when the national team underachieves heads have tended to roll - and this World Cup campaign will be categorised as an underachievement.

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Ben Dirs

Northern exposure leaves Dirsy depressed (79)

To lose one Six Nations side before the quarter-finals of a World Cup is unfortunate. To lose three just goes to show how stagnant and outmoded northern hemisphere rugby has become.

Some claim this tournament has proved that rugby runs stronger and deeper than ever before, with Fiji’s stunning victory over Wales and Georgia’s near upset of Ireland cited as prime examples.

I don’t go for that. After all, the All Blacks and Australia have been gubbing the minnows at this World Cup just as they always have done.

I hesitate to pick on the Scots – at least they managed to scrape through their group - but it was our misfortune to witness their clash with Italy which was the rugby equivalent of a wet weekend in Prestatyn with only a stack of David Essex LPs for company.

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Sean Davies

Gareth Jenkins' reign (136)

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.

Continue reading "Gareth Jenkins' reign"

James Standley

Wales player ratings v Fiji (331)

London - Fiji pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as they outmuscled and outplayed Wales in Nantes.

Here is my verdict on the performance of the Welsh players - let us know how you thought they played.

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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.

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Ryan Jones

Wales moving into gear (34)

Swansea - In the first match of Pool B Australia set a pretty daunting 91-point benchmark for our match against Japan but I think 11 tries and 72 points equals job done for Wales.

The text books went out of the window almost from the word go on Thursday night as both teams threw caution to the wind in the opening exchanges, pretty much setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

Such an opportunity for us to break the shackles and run with the ball usually sees us play our most potent and effective rugby and overall that did prove to be the case - not though, before the Japanese ensured there would be no resting on any laurels when they came up with the try of the tournament so far.

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Sean Davies

Wales ratings v Japan (106)

Wales ratings v Japan

Cardiff – I was at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday for Wales’ Pool B game against Japan.

Here’s how I rated the individual Wales players’ performances. See what you think and let us know what you made of the performance.

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Ryan Jones

Fresh start ahead (22)

Swansea - With the crunch group match against Australia having come and gone, tonight’s match against Japan has the feeling of a fresh start about it.

Everything Wales have done since the Six Nations has been done with that Australia game in mind and of course we would have hoped to emerge victorious from it. However that wasn’t to be and now that the Plan A has been derailed, it’s time for us to crack on with Plan B.

The primary goal still remains a quarter-final berth and to get there as group runners-up we must first negotiate the challenges of the final two group games, starting with the Japanese.

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John Beattie

Beginning of the end for Six Nations? (155)

Do you know, I think that this World Cup is hastening the end of the Six Nations.

The premier northern hemisphere competition is being exposed for what many have suspected it to be for a while – protectionist.

The sooner we let Portugal, Georgia, and Argentina into regular elite competition on an annual basis, the better.

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Ryan Jones

Going walkabout in Cardiff (11)

Swansea - I finally got the chance of some first-hand World Cup action on Saturday as the France 2007 carnival, oddly enough, rolled its way into Cardiff.

I decided to indulge myself, too, by getting right into the heart of the city streets and sucking up a bit of the atmosphere.

When you’re involved as a player you get very little exposure to the buzz of a match day afternoon around and about the stadium where, on top of the 70,000 or so ticket holders, countless more enjoy the day in the capital’s numerous hostelries.

Ironically enough, after enjoying a fine pre-match lunch I joined some friends to watch the match - where else, but in an Australian bar!

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Bruce Pope

Citing spoiling the exciting? (53)

Cardiff - Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way endorsing bad tackles or foul play - I wince and utter the occasional expletive along with the rest of the watching world when something nasty happens during a rugby match.

But I'm thinking that the citing commissioners and disciplinary panels at this Rugby World Cup are coming down too harshly on players.

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Bruce Pope

Was that the end for Alfie? (43)

Cardiff - When Gareth Thomas, dazed and damaged, was helped off the Millennium Stadium pitch on Saturday it may have been the last time we will see him on the international stage.

'Alfie' as he is more often known (after a puppet character from a children's television series) announced at the beginning of this year that he would "probably" retire from Test rugby after the World Cup.

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Bruce Pope

Wales ratings v Australia (121)

Cardiff - I was at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as Wales lost 32-20 to Australia in a match that leaves the Wallabies in control of Pool B.

Here's how I rated the individual Wales players' performances. See whether you agree and let us know what you thought of the match.

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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.

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Ryan Jones

Wales v Australia (43)

Swansea - Since the World Cup pools were drawn however many months ago, both Wales and Australia put a pin in 15 September 2007, identifying it as the day when the four-year cycle of building for a World Cup would end.

It would end because it was the day when there would be no more excuses: no more blooding young players, no more trying new combinations and no more considering a loss as anything but failure. It would be time to deliver –
and here we are.

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Sean Davies

Driven crazy by the opening exchanges (38)

It’s been a frustrating first week of the World Cup for the armchair supporter of the home nations.

I’m not talking about the less than inspiring wins over the USA, Canada, Portugal and Namibia.

It’s those damn Peugeot adverts with the imbecile supporters from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Ben Dirs

Cognac and raw pasta on the menu (21)

Condom, France - I swear on everything that is dear to me that we did not plan to end up in Condom last night.

The idea was to stop off in Agen on the way to Toulouse, but the lack of a campsite meant we had to push on a few extra miles and the next decent-sized town happened to be what the French might refer to as capote anglaise.

We resisted taking a hilarious picture of one of us sniggering under a Condom road sign, but it does mean we will have to put our snail eating contest on the backburner for a couple of weeks.

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Nick Mullins

Suffering from La Baule blues (56)

La Baule - So there you go, seven days into the World Cup and we’re all going home. Wales - and the rest of us flip-flopping around with them - are pulling the suitcase out from underneath the hotel room bed and heading back to Cardiff for the next couple of pool matches.

Sunday in Nantes was terrific, the hospitality there and here at our base beside the Atlantic in La Baule has been overwhelming. But just as we’re beginning to get into the swing of the party, we're off.

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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.

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