We are at this point once again, the rugby world cup and the unenviable ‘group of death’ for Wales. Many people have already ‘predicted’ that Wales will not get out of the group stage, the proof of their beliefs most probably stem from the not only patchy performances that Wales have produced over the last 2 years or so but primarily on their dismal record against ‘the big three’.
Let’s look at things from a slightly different perspective. Many people seem to have forgotten where Wales were pre-2008 and more precisely, pre-Gatland. This man, and of course the support team that he selected, has without doubt transformed Welsh rugby into a force that is arguably more capable than any Welsh team before it.
The Welsh team is a confidence team. They have a large selection of the most formidable and skilled players in the world and when playing with confidence they are not only phenomenally entertaining to watch, but are a world beating side, capably of spoiling any teams day, or world cup…. When playing without confidence they are simply a slightly above average side. So what is it that dictates how ‘confident’ they are on any given day or game?
Watching both recent games against Ireland highlighted both ends of the confidence scale. Even playing the second game, Wales were not quite at their best. Playing ‘heads up’ rugby is something that the top sides in the world consistently play, it’s all and well having a great set piece game, but if your players aren’t watching and reacting to the situation in front of them it just becomes a game of attrition. The consistently top performing sides in the world spot the gaps that ‘average’ sides simply miss.
A confident Wales plays and thrives on this style of ‘heads up’ play, coupled with great set piece play (apart from line out’s), power, fitness and sheer skill. A non-confident Wales simply seems to be half at the game and the other half, well, somewhere else….
We know how good they are, the world knows how good they are, so what it is that stops them from producing the consistent results that they should be producing?
Is it the politics within the WRU? Could that affect individual player’s mentalities or even the team’s mentality? Is it simply that they are still a developing side and that Warren Gatland has and is experimenting with strategies and players pre-world cup? He has indicated in the past that everything that he has done with the team so far has been for the preparation of this tournament. His goal is to win the world cup, and to be consistently part of the ‘top three’.
Numerous people have laughed at this, Wales winning the world cup… IF our team finds its confidence they will be a major headache for any side that faces them. The All Blacks, if we do happen to face them will not be rubbing their hands and thinking ‘it’s just Wales’. They no longer clear 40 points on us as they have done for so many years in the past; the games that we have recently played in general, have been very close affairs.
South Africa have fallen to us recently, and the next few games, Italy and then of course our first game of the world cup against Uruguay are all we have left before the real test comes…. We must of course respect any national side but England we must beat. We need that confidence boost, it is, in my view the big part of the winning formula. If England falls to us at Twickenham, Wales will go on to also beat Australia and top the group.
Injuries have produced a number of headaches for Warren, but just remember that he knows what he’s doing, and do not forget what he has already done for Wales and the Lions…. We are all armchair rugby geniuses in Wales, will all have our own ideas on what Warren Gatland should be doing. The fact is that Gatland is a fine leader and he knows what he is doing, just have faith in that.
It’s here, now. The Rugby World Cup. Everything that our team has accomplished has been in preparation for this. Forget the past, have belief in our Welsh lads and our adopted Kiwi and equally talented Englishman.
Just remember this, for two to three years in recent history the Welsh team goes quite, and then produces a series of spectacular games… They have been quite for two to three years.
It is time for the Welsh Dragons to breathe fire once again, but not just on the European stage, but on the world stage this time….