Gloucester

k.o. time: 2:05 pm

28 January, 2001

Kingsholm

Spectators: 10,800

Cardiff
referee
Steve Lander
5
/10
Homer Rating: 9/10 ..... blew it at the end giving all those needless penalties to Cardiff. Comment: What the Judge allowed at Saracens, he didn't at Gloucester. Unbelievable penalty count - clearly GH was right. With a minute to go of real time, the French crusader realised that something needed to be done, and gave Cardiff no less than five penalties between then and the end of the game. Up until that point, the count stood at a staggering 20 to 9 in Glawster's favour; surely a sign of how inept the Glawster team were to only scrape a victory by six points despite a torrent of penalties and a huge advantage in possession. Surely a sign of how even more inept Cardiff were to lose to such an inept performance!
weather
Crisp, Dry, Sunny with no wind
worth annoying the wife factor
5
/10
our man of the match
Nick Walne
scorers
Gareth Thomas (1)
Nick Walne (1)
Neil Jenkins (1)
Neil Jenkins (1)

The hunger of the Gloucester players and their relish for the physical confrontation was all too much for Cardiff. If Cardiff only took 13 players to Toulouse, then Gloucester only took eight to Kingsholm. Gloucester's VIII were better than Cardiff's XV.

Whilst some of us went for a taste of the local beverage before the game, the passionate and good humoured local rugby supporters got to the ground in their thousands more than an hour before kick off. Some arrogant Welsh supporters think we've got a monopoly on passionate support for your club - well, you're wrong bois, these forest people have passion for their team in tractor loads!

The game started as it was meant to continue. Rhys Williams fluffed his kick to touch and Glawster fired up the tractor and ploughed their way up hill past the shed. Accompanied by the lowing of their supporters, they rolled their way past some pretty ineffectual tree huggers and got the penalty. That was basically how we spent our 80 minutes. Poor kick from Cardiff - lineout - maul - penalty - poor kick from Cardiff etc. etc..

It was pretty turgid stuff.

This game had the neutrals pulling their fingernails out in desperation. This was as much fun and entertainment as pouring hot lead on your genitals. A truly woeful standard of rugby. Brainless kicking of the ball from Cardiff matched by Manic's inept armchair kicking peppered a game which lacked any sort of pace or entertainment. At times it was like watching a herd of fighting bull seals.

Glawster came to catch and drive and this they did with ruthless efficiency or boring regularity - take your pick. The home side exhibited all the flair that their French wing coach was famous for, and trundled onwards and upwards into the soft underbelly of a Cardiff pack lacking the stomach for the fight. Poor body positions ruined any chance of driving the Glawster forwards backwards. But poor ol' Yoda! How was he to know that Cardiff would face a forward onslaught? His Just Rentals video was out of contract and he hadn't seen Gloucester play before! Cardiff's maul defence has been so, so, so strong this season, that there was no need to devote 100% of practice to it, was there? And as for the idea of picking a jumbo pack to compensate! Just what was that strange coach in the west thinking about when he picked Wyatt at blind side? The Jedi-master out did himself by ensuring that he can sleep safe in the knowledge that he's made the vast majority of club supporters in Wales happy this weekend.

The selection of Owain was astounding. Howells excelled himself with new depths of incompetence even we thought was below him. Predictably the first fifteen minuets saw all variety of rolling mauls with Owain flanking outside not getting stuck in. What happened to that embarrassment of riches you were harping on about? Yoda left Kacala and Rita on the pitch at half time when he should have been slinging his light sabre at them in the changing room. What is the point of letting them warm up for Argentina after the competition's already started? Wouldn't they be better off with the rest of the squad working out how to win the game in the second half?

Once more, the set pieces were the root of defeat. Lineouts were a predictable shambles. Cardiff tried Owain at the front to disrupt the opposition throw (was that why he was picked?) but then all that did was to take three players away from defending the inevitable rolling maul that ensued. Quite how Cardiff weren't down to 14 men for continually pulling the maul down, only the sponsors know. Meanwhile, Cardiff's catch and drive was embarrassingly slow and they sped into the Gloucester forwards like a milk float going up hill. Our forwards' unit skills - or total lack of them - were ruthlessly exposed by a better-organised and disciplined pack.

So clearly, Glawster were so much better prepared for this game than Cardiff. They knew where their strengths were and stuck to them. They also knew were Cardiff's weakness were, but that wasn't difficult - just ask Bedwas! They knew all about Cardiff's weakness against the driving maul - no change since Saracens two years ago. They knew all about the line dancing - a kick to the corner was always going to be all that was needed. Painfully watching the video of the game, surely the quote of the season came from the Gloucester assistance coach - John Brain(?), when he said, "You can't win a game on the back of a rolling maul". Well, sorry John, you can and you did! Clearly he had studied videos of Cardiff's games (or perhaps even read the comments on these pages??) - had Yoda done the same?

They knew that Cardiff favoured Tarw on the charge, and clearly Kingsley was delegated to tackle him - which he did time after time! The Cardiff forwards needed to show more bottle and aggression in the tackle and simply needed to get stuck in and slog it out. A lack of physique in the tackle and upper body strength undid the ball carriers, just as it did last week.

Nick Walne was just about the only player in the Cardiff team who seemed to believe that he was clearly better than his opposite number and really gave it a go. Still stays far too much on his wing and can learn a lot from Alfie on the ethics of hard work. Walne was clearly Cardiff's most potent attacker. When Cardiff did finally put some pace on the ball in the best move of the game they scored a well crafted try with a blind side break from a wheeled scrum. Martyn Williams put an expertly-directed chip through, and with support from Howler and Tait at hand, Nick Walne got a deserved try in the corner. Indeed, Walne was so dominant that by the end of the game he was even winning drop outs for the team.

But most of the ball we one resulted in forwards taking the ball on the trot, failing to break the tackle and failing to commit opposition players to rucks and mauls. Head down and no brain work from "supporting players" often meant that there were no Glawster players at all committed to the ruck and maul. The home side's forwards were clearly quicker to the breakdown and showed more determination to do the hard work of winning the ball. Backs or forwards, they were far more combative and physically stronger in contact.

We were never going to see basketball rugby, no matter what Yoda had told them. It was going to take more than the force to win this won. Glawster rucked and mauled away like a hoard of storm troopers. Rob "Obe Wan" Norster may have thought that there was still a chance for Cardiff to triumph, but with R2D2 and C3PO at half back things were looking bleak. Even with Princess Leia at blind side, the forces of the dark side looked dominant. Bringing on Chuwbaka was all too late despite the efforts of Hans Solo.

When Kacala finally entered the fray sixty minutes too late at last there was someone on Jinx shoulder to take the ball from him at pace. He broke the gain line time and time again and was able to at least do something about the trundling tortoise rugby.

So what were the mitigating circumstance that Yoda and his anti-federation troops can use to justify their performance? One was clearly the performance of the referee. Some of the Judge's decisions at the scrum were so one-eyed, we thought him more Turk than French. Scrum after scrum - with the pressure on - the Glawster front row creaked and groaned and "Azam Kazar - size of an elephant!" up popped the hooker! Now whether he was blind to his countryman's indiscretion no one knows, but isn't that a penalty? The pages describing double movements in the maul, players running into their own players, and obstruction are all curiously missing from the Judge's rule book. There's one in the post for you, Jules.

So Cardiff were not wholly to blame for this turgid, dull, roll-in-the-mud advert for rugby league's pass-and-run. Moncreif was truly woeful and only goes to show how over-hyped the Super-12s are (just ask JJH). Simon Manic 's kicking to touch and goal was worthy of Division 3 of the Village League. Do these blokes practice? And as for his pace off the mark, well he couldn't out-pace Dai Young! Thank you Phillipe, for not starting with Byron who gave a faultless exhibition when he had his fifteen minutes of fame. Cardiff should also thank Kingsley for some of his captaincy decisions. All those kicks for goal instead of a 5m lineout. Thank you Kingsley for keeping the score down.

In the Glawster backs (yes they did have some), Fanalalaloo's pathetic drop kick at goal failed to find the necessary shoulder and that just about summed up the game. As for the much hyped Jason Little, well he's clearly sponsored by DFS with the armchair ride he had. Three passes all game - how much is that per pass? Not once was the ball passed along the line the whole game. Cardiff were clearly at their most dangerous when the Glawster backs had the ball. Despite all that possession ball usage by Glawster was almost as bad as the Cardiff forwards display. Gommersal made no difference. Phase possession went backwards - from both teams - and the boot or the 8-man hug was the only way forward.

Cardiff gave the game to Gloucester through a stream of penalties, an unfathomable selection policy, some AWOL performances and a reliance on the force instead of some dog.

But all credit to the foresters. Professional rugby is all about winning, and the ruthless professionalism they showed in beating the Village People should be a lesson to us all.

Sadly again there was no recognition by the Cardiff team and officials of the number of away fans present. Well, if we weren't going to get it in France, we sure weren't going to get it in Glawster. Contrast that with Tom Walkinshaw's comments before the start.

So where do Cardiff go from here?

Alfie's gone and Muller has one year left on his contract. Owain, Kacala and Emyr are surely to retire at the end of the season. Voyle's off to NZ if not HM. Dai Young must be approaching retirement at an alarmingly fast pace. Humph - wonderful servant that he has been at Cardiff - is surely at the end of his career now. Alp will leave as soon as he can.

We've got Owain Ashman, Craig Morgan, Jamie Robinson, Rhys Williams, Jinx and Holwer in the backs - so no really worries there. But with Gary Powell, Dan and Tait the only forwards of any worth left, this season was surely the one for Howells. Any new coach now will need to start rebuilding the pack. Next season will see a real clear out. Why wait, Uncle Peter? As we've been saying all along, your patience and loyalty have been misplaced. For God sake give Jim a ring!

Welsh teams were lucky to get the easy draw; just how humiliated would we have been if we'd been playing in Limerick or Paris. Far more professional approach from the Gloucester and Leicester teams.

The incestuous nature of Welsh rugby is undoing us. We're not learning from overseas players and coaches - only junior players come to Wales. We've not got the overseas coaches (other than Plumtree) in Wales to introduce new ideas to our style of forward play. The top Welsh teams are clearly sick of playing against each other. In-breeding is limiting our gene pool and we're producing rugby full of obvious limitations, riddled with errors and limited horizons.

Clearly Swansea and Cardiff have been the best teams this season in Wales but neither can win away from home - Llanelli's excellent win in Colomiers and Cardiff's win in Saracens are the only example of victory for top Welsh teams competing this season.

Swansea and Cardiff players were unable to raise their game and were both outfoxed by referees. Not content with limiting the ambitions of our top teams in Wales, the WRUin is now clearly forcing standards down even future by leaving our players ill prepared for international games because of the dire standard of Welsh refereeing. The Six Nations have recognised this, and there are no Welsh referees to be seen in the forthcoming weeks.

The more professional approach of the English set up is producing more professional players (even Harlequins managed to win in Brive this weekend). Cardiff lack physically hard players - and simply put, there are none in Wales. We need to mix Youth with experience - something we're doing extremely well with our back line but something we've failed to do up front. We need to mix Welsh Youth with Southern Hemisphere physical abrasiveness and professionalism.

Swansea's indiscipline in the league spilled over into the European Cup - a clear sign of the arrogance of Welsh players and clubs. At Kingsholme, likewise, there were clear signs of in discipline from Spencer, Tait, Owain and Martyn Williams. The list goes on. Just about every Cardiff forward was responsible for giving one needless penalty away. Sorry bois! But arguing with the ref (Quinnell, Owain and Tait clearly guilty) is not going to win you the game.

Where was the leadership on the pitch from Young, exhorting discipline from his pack and more effort in the face of the one-dimensional predictable stuff thrown at them? There's a sad arrogance amongst so called "rugby supporters" (club supporters, yes, but rugby supporters?) and the Welsh public in general with an over inflated idea of our own worth. When will we learn our club structure is not producing the players to sustain our game, and unless we have some radical surgery, the game will die in Wales - no matter how many sugar daddies appear to try to keep it alive!

Wales will get a tonking next week unless England fail to turn up. Swansea and Cardiff were both totally outplayed up front and we can expect more of the same next week (same as last year?). We have no hooker in Wales who can comfortably hit his man in the lineout. Our props are out of position and other than Charvis, we have no back row. Our scrum half is slow and we have a shaky full back. Roarks drift here we come!

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
5
/10
Tentative in the extreme and can expect a real barrage next week if he pulls on the Welsh jersey. Lacks power in contact and there has been no appreciable change in his power play since last season - get on the weights, Rhys!
14
Nick Walne
8
/10
Clearly Cardiff's most potent attacking weapon.
13
Jamie Robinson
2
/10
Passing was frighteningly bad and he's obviously caught the Martyn Williams disease - OK in his own back yard, but gets nose bleeds when he passes Pentyrch. Looked like he couldn't pass water.
12
Pieter Muller
5
/10
Bit too much of the macho b*****t - needless penalty.
11
Gareth Thomas
7
/10
Again worked hard and took the ball at pace. We'll miss his commitment, but not his decision making and kicking.
10
Neil Jenkins
3
/10
Totally static when taking a pass. Howler began the game by firing the ball in front of Jinx, but by the end of the game had lost all confidence in the outside half. If ever there was a player playing for his international spot next week, then it was Jinx. Kick offs were too long and numerous touch kicks went awry. By the second half the statuesque Jinx took the ball with all the pace of Nelson's Column. His game making slipped back a season and he looked completely out of his depth. As the game came to a close, he looked disinterested.
9
Robert Howley
4
/10
Howler was woefully slow to the breakdown and ponderous before moving the ball wide. No speed in distribution. Box kicking was poorly directed; you can get away with it in the Village league, but at this level the catcher has to get tackler and ball at the same time. Aimless kicks whether from Jinx or Howler put our lineout more under pressure than the Glawster defence.
8
Emyr Lewis
7
/10
Had some charges in the centre but no good in the tight. Mauls with all the ferocious skill of Derwyn.
7
Martyn Williams
4
/10
Not his sort of game. Lacked the physical presence - showed why he'll always be out of his depth at international rugby.
6
Owain Williams
1
/10
Good for the comic value.
5
John Tait
7
/10
Worked very hard in the lineout and wins a Stetson for his dancing. One more performance like that, and well give him a nice pair of cowboy boots to go with it.
4
Craig Quinnell
6
/10
Likes the loose stuff and charging into people, but Craig, wwoooohh! Those luuuuv handles have got to go, boy!
3
Dai Young
5
/10
One of the few players to work hard in the tight stuff.
2
Jon Humphreys
4
/10
Took so much static ball around the breakdown that his back must look like the surface of Io. No one worked harder, but sadly any semblance of pace has gone and now he couldn't his a cows @rse with a banjo on his throws. The heart is still strong, but the body has taken too much punishment. Even though this game was still played at Humph's pace, he still managed to look too slow.
1
Spencer John
5
/10
You've got to feel sorry for Spence who's being treated really badly. Peter Rogers tried to collapse every scrum his was involved in and couldn't even manage that. Mmmm. Keep Rita and get rid of Alfie - talk us through that one, Uncle Peter?