Monthly Archives: January 2002

What did this season’s European Competitions bring to Welsh rugby?

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Bridgend had a truly woeful campaign and don’t deserve to qualify for Europe next season. Losing all of their games through a mixture of incompetence and naivety, one wonders how much longer Dennis John can hold on to his job.

Swansea’s performance was equally dire, though they at least can gain some satisfaction in winning two of their home games. However, it took them until the last game of the competition before they crossed the try line – a damning verdict on their ability to entertain the sparse crowds that turn up to watch them this season.

Newport were probably the only real success of this year’s competition. They played some entertaining rugby and managed an away win in England – none of the other Welsh teams managed that. They were unlucky to lose to Leinster at home following a lights failure, but there is still a question over their self belief in a tight game.

Cardiff once more flattered to deceive and the Welsh disease of getting home sick for mummy when ever teams cross the Severn Bridge has gone beyond embarrassing. No wonder some people in Wales are so frightened of cross border competition, they want to pull up the draw bridge and wave good-bye to the outside world.

As for Llanelli – wonderful heroes of Welsh rugby as the local press would have them – they were fortunate to draw a joke of an Italian team in their group and so progressed to the quarter finals. They too failed to win away in France and England, and were it not for a farcical 100 point game would not have progressed further in the competition. As with Swansea, they too showed an inability to score a try in two of their games.

As for the Shield, the competition descended into farce. Ebbw Vale allegedly only qualified for the next round because the opposition threw the game – if this is true, what a disgraceful state of affairs …. Agen should be banned from all European competition for a very long time.

Pontypridd’s qualification was only guaranteed by the Italian team in their group failing to turn up for a match!

Neath played well in two matches against Bristol, but despite a victory in France (against a very weak French team who won only one game throughout the competition) went out with a whimper against a bunch of Italian amateurs. How embarrassing!

Caerphilly’s only contribution was to embarrass Welsh club rugby further by acting as target practice for a rampant Gloucester side – another 100 pointer for the rancid cheesers!

So don’t be fooled by what the press will have us believe – this year’s European campaign has shown how far Welsh rugby is slipping behind the English and French. Our domestic structure is rotten to the core with a host of meaningless games against sub-standard competition. All this is so frustrating for the fans who when provided with high profile games are willing to turn out in their thousands to watch. Without fundamental changes at the top end of our sport, next season’s European story is likely to be a similar one – some stirring performances at home blighted by capitulation away from home and ultimate failure.

The future is not bright.

 

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