RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About Wales
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RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About Wales

RWC: 5 Things You Need to Know About Wales

Wales come into the Cup at fifth in the world rankings. It’s an indication of how competitive their pool will be that they are widely tipped to miss out – perhaps even behind Fiji. It will be a tough ask for the Dragons, but their strategy works well in tournament Rugby.

1.  Halfpenny and Webb

These two blokes would have rated a mention in this article in any case, but they are here for all of the wrong reasons. Both suffered injuries in last Saturday’s warmup win over Italy. Furthermore, it has since been confirmed that both will miss the World Cup.

Rhys Webb had recently asserted himself as Wales’ first choice scrumhalf band was being hailed as a player to watch for the Dragons. He’ll be replaced in the squad by experienced campaigner, Mike Phillips, who was a surprise omission in the first place. What they lose in dynamic play, they’ll make up some having Phillips’ experience on the bench.

Halfpenny is even more of a loss. The little fullback is a threat both with the ball in hand and with the boot. His goal kicking is worth naming him for by itself, but he s agle and has speed to burn, as well as the hands to set them up for others. He’s been replaced in the squad by Osprey’s prodigy Eli Walker, though it will likely be Liam Williams who takes his place in the team.

2.  Warrenball

Warren Gatland has a certain style in coaching attack. When you read down the team list, you notice a proliferation of massive backs. A starting side for Wales is likely to have four backs well over 100kg – each a fast and explosive athlete. Wales relies on these blokes running straight, hard lines at a weak shoulder and relying on the flyhalf or fullback to put them into the right place at the right time.

There has been a great deal of discussion among the Welsh pundits as to whether this style of play has merit and whether it has outlived its usefulness. The consensus seems to be that it has. Wales’ inconsistent performances in the Six Nations tournament and in other internationals are testament to that.

But the World Cup is a different kettle of fish and I think that it is exactly the stage where ‘Warrenball’ can be effective – provided you have the depth. It can really suck the life out of dynamic opposition. It is a simple, well rehearsed plan. As such, if there is an injury, it is easy to have replacements prepared. That’s a bonus in a tournament where management of injuries has as much to do with the result as the on-field talent.

3.  Tackle, Jackal and Bosh

Warrenball also relies fairly heavily on forwards who can win and hold onto the ball and defend their backsides off. Everyone needs a backrow which can defend, carry the ball and win it at the ruck, but – like everything Gatland does – Wales has a simple method of selecting the players.

They are specialists in their area, with Dan Lydiate providing the tackle, Sam Warburton the jackal and Toby Faletau the bosh.Warburton is the captain and is a breakdown specialist. He’s close to the best over the ball the northern hemisphere has and he can win the pill for the Dragons. Faletau’s main role in lfe is to move the gain line, and the number 8 takes his job seriously. He carries the ball more than any other Welsh forward and moves the line when he does. Lastly, Lydiate is a tackling machine. He only carries the ball a couple of times per game, but regularly tops the tackle count and doesn’t miss many.

Again, with simple roles for each of the forwards, it enables a simple gameplan and makes it easier to produce replacements who can come on without having to change said plan.

4.  Six Nations Form

Wales are coming off a reasonable Six Nations tournament, where they lost just of their five matches – to pool A rivals, England. They’ve since lost one of their tuneup matches to Six Nations champions,Ireland, as well. During last November’s tour matches, they went down to Australia, but got over South Africa and won an unexpectedly tight one over Fiji – another pool A rival.

It’s hard to know how to read the form for Wales, but it sure will be an up hill battle for the Dragons.

5. First Up Against the Wall

It’s generally accepted that there are three teams with a chance in pool A. It’s also accepted that the team likely to miss out will be Wales. The injuries to some key players don’t make it any easier. In fact, if George Smith’s Fiji prophecy comes true, Wales will be first up against the wall in the revolution.

As it stands, it will take quite a run of luck for the Welsh to progress beyond the pool rounds this year. That’s a real issue for the number five ranked team in the world.

  • Matthew Jones

    Poorly researched. Wales beat Ireland in this years Six Nations. Do you guys watch any northern hemisphere rugby?

    • Chris M

      Thanks, mate. This is the 16th of 20 articles I’ve written for this. It’s not the first time I’ve let an error through, but it is the first time I’ve copped a mouthful for it. Congratulations on being that guy – twit.

      Fixed, by the way.

      • PC Joy

        How do get arrive at twit for correcting a pretty obvious mistake? You need a day at the beach.

        • Braveheart81

          It’s pretty easy to point out an error without being rude to the author. Matthew Jones’ comment was unnecessary.

        • Parker

          He could easily have pointed out the error gracefully, without the snark, but chose instead the twit approach.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Is ‘twit’ really bad?
          Rightio then the next time my Missus calls me that, I’ll bloody well give her what for.

        • Chris M

          Three other people have corrected errors in my articles without the disparaging remarks. Twit may be a bit harsh. But that’s what autocorrect recommended. What I originally wrote was worse.

        • Garren Watland

          I agree, Fwit is what I would have used.

      • Marcus Pontmercy

        Keep up the good work! We appreciate your efforts!

    • Nutta

      Looking forward to your articles posted up for peer review Matt

    • ols

      Mather Jones = Ryhs Webb..
      Give the guy a break.

  • Officer McNulty

    A good read Chris thanks for some relief from this endless wait

  • Chynners

    Chris – thanks for doing these. It’s great to have some rugby stuff to read while the Australian media appears to have gone quiet (1 week before the World Cup!)

    • Will

      i’m grateful the aus media are quiet…. it’s normally this stage where they begin proclaiming the wallabies are world beaters and embarress the hell out of us.

      Much happier to fly under the radar and pick teams off if we can

      • Chynners

        Yeah that’s true! Totally know what you mean. The amount of times I’ve read an article in the media from an Aussie journo saying “the time is right to break the hoodoo at Eden park” …

        But some coverage would be good right? I guess it’s AFL and NRL finals time so they are taking the pages, at least for this week.

  • Bob

    “Warrenball” is the polite term for it. The alternative, and better IMO, name for it is “Cementball” — derived from Gatland’s nickname of “cement head”.

  • Patrick

    On the bright side if Wales get through the pool they will already have satisfied their public! But most leave a bad taste in their mouth copping England at home and Australia when in any other pool they’d back themselves to get through. Even if they had copped France and Ireland say they’d have thought that was a fair ask.

  • Relance

    Another exciting preview. Bring it on ! Really a shame that Halfpenny is going to miss out though. Before his injury I thought fullback was the position with the greatest wealth of talent for this world cup, with Ben Smith executing all facets almost flawlessly and Halfpenny (positioning), Folau (in the air), Le Roux (counterattack – the 2014 version) and Kearney (kicking) slightly better in one part of the game – without being too shabby in the others. Now I’d probably go with backrow.

Rugby

Mrs Mac thinks Chris talks about Rugby far too much. She's probably right. If he's not coaching, he's watching. And if he's not doing either, he's jibbering incessantly about it. He has also been named as a finalist in the Asteron Life Community Coach of the Year for 2015. Mrs Mac remains unimpressed.

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