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Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland is letting rip on WalesOnline in a no-holds-barred 50 questions and answers piece. The questions are sent in by Welsh rugby fans.
If you're a Welsh rugby fan then you have to read this.
Wow.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/rugbynation/rugby-news/2011/09/08/warren-gatland-my-answers-to-your-questions-91466-29381145/#sitelife-commentsWidget-bottom



Wales prop Craig Mitchell takes no prisoners when it comes to his demands for iron discipline from the team around him.
We all know what he can do on the field of play but this latest expression of his determination is in his new role as Choirmaster to the Wales Rugby World Cup squad.
Head Coach Warren Gatland wanted his players to be prepared to properly acknowledge the warm New Zealand welcome he knew his boys would get from the people.
He wanted his team to prove the Welsh really can sing and Craig won his approval as the man to knock the boys into shape.
Warren has not been disappointed.
This Welsh squad began their choir practise back in Wales before packing their bags for the biggest tournament some of them will ever play in.
Craig hosted the sessions and nobody - not even the coaches or management staff were exempt from taking part.
That training continued on the team coach to training and the polish was added in the team room at the Wellington hotel where the squad is based.
A selection process was instigated and Ken Owens, Robin McBryde and Jamie Roberts emerged as trusted soloists.
The practices were performed with a quiet determinations especially with added support from perfectionists like Alun Wyn Jones who wanted the boys to get it right.
The training paid off at the Maori Welcome for the team in Porirua where the hosts were blown away by a determined rendition of the Welsh folk song Ar Lan Y Mor
Yes they did sing their way into the hearts of their hosts. They have just arrived in NZ but already they are leaving their legacy..
On one level it is all a bit of fun and a little professional courtesy to the host nation but there is also an underlying theme of this squad staying together:staying tight.
The boys are given leadership in how they decide to act and that is expressed in seemingly ordinary matters like how the squad choir is prepared.
There were practises , songsheets printed by the players and quite a few discussions on how to achieve a little more harmony and hwyl.
What it delivers is yet more evidence that this squad is prepared to develop as a unit as well as a group of exceptionally talented rugby playing individuals.
Just talk to some of the Welsh ex pats who turned up to a team training session and you will look into faces and see eyebrows raised in surprise at how big, fast and focused these boys are.
Training before match week was organised to blow away a lot of jetlag and long flight cobwebs but the edge emerged and stayed.
The first session began with the unusual sight of players catching tennis balls hit at them from unusual angles by backs coach Rob Howley.
Other groups of players looked like circus jugglers as they caught combinations of tennis balls and rugby balls hurled by laughing players.
In another corner of the pitch Neil Jenkins peppered the air with kicks to players who faced away from him before being ordered to turn and catch the decending ball.
Maybe it was all easy going fun aimed at getting rugby reactions back up to speed after the flight but a lasting impression was how Jenkins kicking accuracy meant that every one of his forty plus attempts seemed to come down to earth at exactly the same spot. Amazing.
The reality of that and other early sessions though was how when the rugby was introduced when the boys were warmed up this squad pushed further and harder than anyone could fairly expect from individuals who had just travelled around the world.
We have all heard about the exploits in Poland and those exceptional fitness levels but there is something tangible and exceptional going on here.
This squad is creating an environment where the pursuit of excellence through talent, determination and discipline is at the heart of what they do.
Rob Howley sees it and likes what he sees.
He said:"In terms of the attitude within this squad it has continued to evolve over the past few months the boys have been in camp.
"Developing the right environment has to be up there amongst the top priorities of any rugby team. Getting that environment right and achieving proper buy in from the players is so important.
"There is no doubt that over recent months this squad has bought into that and also because we are talking here about Rugby World Cup the environment now is increasingly positive.
"The choir is just one example of how that is expressed. The players have accepted responsibility for delivering something and they have carried that out very professionally."
Although the coach acknowledges they may not contest with the best at any National Eisteddfod you won't be able to knock their effort.
The real hard work is yet to come but all this activity is creating a team with the confidence to give of their best and make Wales proud.

John Williams
Head of Communications
Welsh Rugby Union

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion,
enwogiion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr,
gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra mor yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

There's already been an amazing response to our charity wristbands campaign.

We've launched red charity wristbands so that you can show your support for our Wales squad in the Rugby World Cup AND raise money for the brilliant Welsh cancer charity Tenovus.

The wristbands are available in all 40 of Tenovus's Welsh stores, at WRU outlets, at Media Wales head office in Cardiff (Six Park Street) at Admiral's Head Office and at HSBC outlets across South Wales.

They're also available online - click on the link on our home page or via http://www.tenovus.org.uk/go-shopping/come-on-wales!-.aspx.

The wristbands cost £1 and ALL the proceeds go to Tenovus.

We launched them on Saturday and already 12 of the Tenovus stores are having to be re-stocked after selling out.

The Wales squad left for New Zealand with their wristbands and they're delighted with the campaign - seeing it as a great way of raising money for cancer and also as a help to them - as a visible sign of the fantastic support they get from the Welsh rugby-loving public.

So join the campaign, wear your wristband, support our boys and do your bit to help those with cancer too.

Come on Wales!

On Tuesday there'll be an exciting addition to the fantastic rugby coverage you expect, and receive, from WalesOnline - a dedicated Rugby World Cup site filled with up-to-the-minute news from the Welsh camp, profiles of all the teams, video highlights from Wales' matches and much more...
Keep visiting to stay in the know about what's going on in All Blacks land....

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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!

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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.

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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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