August 2011 Archives

The outcome of the 2011 Rugby World Cup is no longer as black and white as it seemed a few months ago. Well, it's no longer so black to be precise (assuming that you are not one those optimists who believes England, Fiji or Georgia have a realistic chance of winning it).

Following another successful four year cycle, the All Blacks have had a surprisingly colourful build up to RWC 2011. First there was the loss to the men in green in Port Elizabeth; albeit having selected an experimental team. Then there was the defeat to the gold and green's last weekend in Brisbane. The AB's very own golden boy Sonny Bill Williams has not only lost the form which saw him dominate second five-eighth for the Crusaders in this year's Super Rugby comp, but it appears that he is now unsure whether he wants to play rugby union in New Zealand at all; a return to rugby league seems imminent. Kieran Read and Adam Thomson are black and blue after the recent Tri- Nations encounters, and may even miss the RWC group stages. Whilst the alarming dip in the form of Zac Guilford, whose inclusion in the squad came at the expense of Sivivatu and Gear, may well have turned Graham Henry's underwear a murky shade of brown.

The Maori refer to New Zealand as 'Aotearoa'; it means 'the land of the long white cloud'. But if you believe the Kiwi media, the grey clouds appear to be gathering.


So guys, this is it. Scary stuff, the team is off, and we should all now be getting ready for some seriuosly early morning rugby viewing (This will be more difficult for some than others - e.g. me who has to negotiate Freshers Week at Uni as well as watching rugby at 3 in the morning. Should be fun..)

First game against the reigning RWC champions should be interesting. It's quite a tough one to call really, with Wales pretty much on Cloud 9 at the moment, after a successful warm up campaign and a jump up the World Rankings to 6th, and South Africa coming in with a mixed bag of results - coming a clear last in the Tri Nations but defeating the World Number 1 team New Zealand in their final game with a much improved performance.

There's definitely a heightened sense of optimism around Wales, as everyone has jumped on the beating-South-Africa bandwagon. I firmly believe Wales have a good enough team to beat any other team. However there's always the familiar hump of the mental block when it comes to New Zealand and Australia. This year could see Wales making it pretty far, and with the run up they've had, I personally will be absolutely gutted and disappointed if they're not challenging for a berth in the semi-finals.

Whilst I still think we underestimate the Boks at our peril, come on... it's easy to imagine our boys lifting that cup, isn't it? The first game is crucial.

So our squad are in All Blacks land, they're wearing our Come on Wales charity wristbands to remind them of their support back home and they're being put through their paces by Gatland and co.
Now we're giving you the chance to wish them good luck in an unique way.
We've listed all the 30 squad members below. Select the player, or players, of your choice and write them a concise good luck message.
These messages will be printed on the players' Welsh jerseys which they will wear at some point during the Tournament.
So hurry! they need your good luck messages, and Media Wales and the WRU need to get the messages on the shirts and get them sent to New Zealand so that our boys can wear them.
Triumph is only a side-step, a conversion and loads of good luck messages away...

Aled Brew

Age
25
Position
Wing
Club/Region
Dragons
Height
6ft
Weight
15st 2
Caps
7

Perhaps the surprise inclusion in the Welsh backline after Warren Gatland decided to take 14 backs to New Zealand. The Dragons powerhouse will be hoping for a chance to translate regional form onto the national stage.

Andy Powell

Age
30
Position
No. 8
Club/Region
Sale
Height
6ft 4
Weight
18st
Caps
18

The Lions tourist was the surprise inclusion in the back-row party after his try-scoring exploits against Argentina gained him selection ahead of Martyn Williams and Josh Turnbull. Needs to prove he is not travelling to New Zealand just to keep spirits high off the field.

Bradley Davies

Age
24
Position
Second-row
Club/Region
Blues
Height
6ft 6
Weight
19st 1
Caps
24

The Blues second-row established himself as the Welsh enforcer over the last 18 months. Wales will need Davies to take this to another level at the World Cup if they are to compete against the juggernaut pack of South Africa and tough Samoans and Fijians.

Craig Mitchell

Age
25
Position
Prop
Club/Region
Exeter
Height
6ft 1
Weight
17st 2
Caps
10

Deputised admirably for Adam Jones in the Six Nations with superb work-rate in the loose. But suffered serious shoulder injury against Ireland and still feeling his way back to fitness in World Cup warm-up matches.

Dan Lydiate

Age
23
Position
Flanker
Club/Region
Dragons
Height
6ft 4
Weight
17st 10
Caps
14

Dragons destructive flanker has made the Welsh number six jersey his own. Dubbed the 'White Samoan' because of his hard tackling. Might have to play at openside during tournament because no specialist cover for Warburton.

George North

Age
19
Position
Wing
Club/Region
Scarlets
Height
6ft 4
Weight
16st 4
Caps
8

The Scarlets teenage sensation is being tipped to be one of the World Cup success stories. Standing at 6ft 4in and 16st, the barnstorming wing already has six tries in eight Tests after bursting onto the scene with two on his debut against South Africa.

Alun Wyn Jones

Age
25
Position
Second-row
Club/Region
Ospreys
Height
6ft 5
Weight
18st 10
Caps
52

The Lions lock showed against Argentina he has all the tools to be one of the most influential Welsh players in New Zealand. But will need to oversee a dramatic improvement in the lineout of Wales are to have any possession to launch their backline.

Gethin Jenkins

Age
30
Position
Prop
Club/Region
Blues
Height
6ft 2
Weight
18st 9
Caps
76

Whether the Lions Test loose-head adds to his 76 caps is doubtful after not playing since January with toe and calf problems. But Wales are prepared to take him to New Zealand injured and not having played a game for nine months shows how important he is considered to the cause.

Huw Bennett

Age
28
Position
Hooker
Club/Region
Ospreys
Height
6ft
Weight
16st 8
Caps
42

Injury to Wales captain Rees has left Bennett as the firm number one hooker going into the World Cup. Impressed in August warm-up matches in the loose and Wales will be hoping his lineout throwing is on the money in New Zealand.

James Hook

Age
26
Position
Outside half / centre / full-back
Club/Region
Perpignan
Height
6ft
Weight
14st 12
Caps
54

Vital to Welsh World Cup hopes with his ability to unlock defences. Showing signs he now has tools to manage a game in preferred position at outside-half but might still be needed at centre or full-back.

Jamie Roberts

Age
24
Position
Centre
Club/Region
Blues
Height
6ft 4
Weight
17st 5
Caps
32

Lions Test player of the series has recently shown glimpses he is returning to form of 2009. Pivotal to the Welsh attacking game plan in getting his 6ft 4in 17st frame over the gain line while his defensive strength has never been in doubt.

Jonathan Davies

Age
23
Position
Centre
Club/Region
Scarlets
Height
6ft 1
Weight
16st 3
Caps
14

Wales like this formidable physical centre partnership with Jamie Roberts but question marks remain about whether the pair can play together with the accusation of a lack of midfield creativity. The World Cup should provide definitive answer.

Ken Owens

Age
24
Position
Hooker
Club/Region
Scarlets
Height
6ft 1
Weight
17st 8
Caps
0

The Scarlets understudy is the uncapped player in the squad. Late call-up after injury to Richard Hibbard in the final World Cup warm-up match against Argentina. Now has the chance to prove his credentials on the grandest stage of all.

Lee Byrne

Age
31
Position
Full-back
Club/Region
Clermont Auvergne
Height
6ft 3in
Weight
14st 12
Caps
44

The Lions Test full-back is the only specialist number 15 in the squad and Wales will be hoping he can regain his Grand Slam form, of 2008. Wales will want to see his counter-attacking skills and booming boot in evidence.

Leigh Halfpenny

Age
22
Position
Wing
Club/Region
Blues
Height
5ft 10
Weight
13st 2
Caps
20

Recovering from an ankle injury so quickly to make this World Cup is Halfpenny's biggest achievement. Has had to see George North take his Wales jersey but the Lions wing could yet figure in his favoured full-back position in New Zealand.

Lloyd Burns

Age
26
Position
Hooks
Club/Region
Dragons
Height
6ft
Weight
17st
Caps
3

Amazing rags to riches story for the Dragons front-rower. Was a bricklayer while playing semi-professional rugby just under 12 months ago. Now going to a World Cup as the second-string hooker.

Lloyd Williams

Age
21
Position
Scrum-half
Club/Region
Blues
Height
6ft
Weight
13st 9
Caps
1

Son of former Wales and Lions scrum-half Brynmor, Lloyd has overcome the more experienced challenge of Peel and Blues rival Richie Rees. Most naturally talented of three scrum-halves in the squad and will be hoping for chance to show this.

Luke Charteris

Age
27
Position
Second-row
Club/Region
Dragons
Height
6ft 9
Weight
19st 10
Caps
25

Hard-working lock will travel to New Zealand as the third second-row looking to break up the first-choice partnership of Davies and Jones. The Dragons giant has all the physical credentials to impose himself at international rugby. He just needs to use them now.

Mike Phillips

Age
29
Position
Scrum-half
Club/Region
Bayonne
Height
6ft 3
Weight
15st 10
Caps
54

Lions Test star has put off-the-field troubles behind him to show how important he is to his country. Wales will need his physical attributes if they are to come through tough group.

Paul James

Age
29
Position
Prop
Club/Region
Ospreys
Height
6ft 1
Weight
18st 2
Caps
26

Wales' Mr Dependable over the last 18 months on both sides of scrum. Certain to start against South Africa on September 11 after Jenkins has been ruled out through injury of the World Cup opener in Wellington.

Rhys Priestland

Age
24
Position
Outside-half / full-back
Club/Region
Scarlets
Height
6ft
Weight
13st 9
Caps
4

The Scarlets back impressed in the August matches to cement his place in the squad. Will now be looking to go the next step as he looks to rival James Hook and Stephen Jones for the number 10 shirt. Can double up as full-back.

Ryan Bevington

Age
22
Position
Prop
Club/Region
Ospreys
Height
6ft
Weight
17st 2
Caps
4

Extremely mobile for a prop and one of the fastest forwards in the squad. One for the future but if Gethin Jenkins is not fit, he might need to prove he is ready for international rugby now.

Ryan Jones

Age
30
Position
No. 8
Club/Region
Ospreys
Height
6ft 5
Weight
17st 5
Caps
53

Resurgent Ryan has lifted his game since being relieved of the Welsh captaincy and will play in his first World Cup. No 8 will be hoping to shake off a calf injury to restore Six Nations back-row partnership with young flankers Lydiate and Warburton. Also covers second-row.

Sam Warburton (C)

Age
22
Position
Blues
Club/Region
6ft 2
Height
6ft 2
Weight
16st 4
Caps
17

Wales' World Cup captain and a well-deserved accolade. Might only be 22 but our new magnificent seven has shown assured composure since given the leadership reins. No specialist open side cover in squad, so promises to be busy few weeks for Warburton in New Zealand.

Scott Williams

Age
20
Position
Centre
Club/Region
Scarlets
Height
6ft
Weight
15st 3
Caps
4

Has made a late charge from nowhere to be picked as one of three specialist centres. Injury to Gavin Henson has seen him handed a deserved opportunity and will be looking to break-up the midfield pairing of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies.

Shane Williams

Age
34
Position
Wing
Club/Region
Ospreys
Height
5ft 7
Weight
12st 1
Caps
81

The Wales wing wizard is still one of the dangermen at the grand old age of 34. 54 tries in 81 Tests for the former IRB World player of the year tells its own story. Super Shane will be looking for one lust hurrah.

Stephen Jones

Age
33
Position
Outside-half
Club/Region
Scarlets
Height
6ft 1
Weight
14st 7
Caps
100

Major injury doubts surround the record cap holder going into the tournament after calf trouble has plagued him for a month. No longer first choice but Lions stalwart can still provide vital experience.

Fixtures

  • WalesvAustralia

    Saturday, December 3rd at 2:30pm
    Millennium Stadium

Wales Rugby Videos

Our Welsh rugby bloggers

Jamie Powell

Jamie Powell

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I’m Jamie Powell, a Welsh rugby exile living in east Sussex. My parents are from Ebbw Vale so growing up there was only one team for me to support! I watch all the Wales games and also try and watch as many club games as possible. I have also started to go to London Welsh games.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

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Exiled Wirraller and Ospreylian trapped in the capital; by day I sort out the lives of others but by weekend I report on all things rugby for the womenfolk of this fair hemisphere.

When I’m not aiding and abetting the hot flushes of the femmes of terraces around the land, I help report on the RaboDirect Pro12 for some of the more serious websites, so I’ll be here to bring you the lighter side of goings on.

Jon North

Jon North

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My name is Jonathan North and as head photographer for Welsh photographic agency ASI I get to see a lot of Welsh rugby from up close. Through my work I enjoy rugby at all levels from the local club game right through to the national side.

In my blog I try and share my experiences from pitchside and the opinions that form there. As well as that I also include my latest photographic work to accompany my tales from the touchline.

Simon Lister

Simon Lister

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I live in Birmingham, raised in Swansea, I’ve just turned 32. I live with my wife, I’m a Welsh rugby fan as well as a huge Swans and Ospreys fan. Myself and a group of friends go away to Edinburgh/Ireland every year for the away fixture in the Six nations.

I get more excited about the Six Nations than I do about Christmas. It’s going to be a very difficult campaign with expectation very high due to us making the semi-finals of the World Cup. We have very difficult away fixtures in Dublin & Twickenham. I manage to follow most regional games on the internet so I’m able to see who’s in form etc. I shall be in Dublin in February for the fixture. I’m looking forward to seeing the Welsh players back at their regions, hopefully they will maintain their high standards.

Kumari Tilakawardane

Kumari Tilakawardane

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I'm a student from North Wales – where, believe it or not, we know as much about rugby as do those in the south! I am a former captain of the Gogledd Cymru Girls U18 Team as well as being a qualified coach and referee.

I fancy I could give Gatland a run for his money and I'm almost always convinced I'm right and the ref's wrong – something I have in common with most of Wales I think, particularly after recent events...

 

As a lock and Number 8 I am an ardent supporter of the pack. Not one to shy away from confrontation on the field, the same goes for my reporting. Currently located in London, living with the enemy, so to speak... I have to make my opinion heard down here. So, let me hear you... Come on Cymru!

Rene Merideth

Rene Merideth

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American with Welsh heritage and a deep love of Welsh rugby in her blood.  So much so I blog from Los Angeles where International games are on at 6am!

Seb Barrett

Seb Barrett

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My name is Sebastian Barrett. I'm from Cardiff. Like most Welshmen, I view rugby as the be all and end all.

Paul Williams

Paul Williams

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34 years old, but I look 44. I work in advertising and if rugby OCD is a legitimate syndrome, then I have it.

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