Cardiff

k.o. time: 7:30 pm

29 October, 2004

BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 7,128

Stade Francais
referee
Tony Spreadbury
6
/10
We were looking forward to a decent ref for this game. In recent weeks we've suffered frustration in Edinburgh, Changalang's homerisms, and Judge Dread last week. On the whole, Spreadbury was an improvement, but his premeditated refereeing of Quinnell ruined the game for Cardiff. Yellow carding the wrong player virtually ended the game as a contest. Now if only he'd sent the hooker to the bin instead ....
worth annoying the wife factor
1
/10
our man of the match
Gethin Rhys Williams
scorers
Dean Dewdney (2)
Lee Thomas (1)
Lee Thomas (1)
our choice for next week

vs Scarlets

k.o. time: 3:00 pm

7 November, 2004

BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park

15
Matthew Nuthall
14
Freddy Tuilagi
13
Shaun James
12
Nick Macleod
11
Johnny Vaughton
10
Lee Thomas
9
Dean Dewdney
8
James Malpas
7
Dan Baugh
6
Kort Schubert
5
Nathan Budgett
4
Craig Quinnell
3
Ben Evans
2
Thomas Rhys Thomas
1
John Yapp

Cardiff slumped to thier first home defeat of the season with what was their worst performance in many, many months. To lose to Stade Francais - with their annual budget of Euro9m - would not have been be too much of an embarrassment in most circumstances, but this was a decidedly average French team. They'd promised to come to Cardiff to run the ball but basic kick and clap was more than enough to beat the home team.

A crowd of over 8,000 (despite what the "official" attendance claims as the ground was over half full) turned up to give the team a chance to turn things around from previous bad form. Perhaps the extra 5,000 from the Connacht game were hopeful of seeing the stars from Paris or perhaps they hoped that evidence of improvement in Belfast could see a home victory. But the performance of many of the players and in particular the decision making of the coach means that we won't see those supporters at CAP for some time.

The seeds for this defeat lay in a truely bewildering selection of out of form players, rank average individuals and others who are simply not up to the standard required. Sure Young has demonstrated his loyalty in certain players, but during this game his misplaced compassion saw the public humiliation of one of his choices beamed live across Europe.

Cardiff supporters before this game were crying out for the selection of Rhys Thomas ahead of the out of sorts Gareth Williams, but Young stuck by the man who didn't even want to come to Cardiff in the first place. If Williams' performance against Ulster was bad, this one left him a broken man. And he can thank his coach for exposing his hooker to redicule. Just what did you hope to gain by keeping him on the pitch for so long, Dai? Did you think he'd play through his bad patch? Did you think Mr Williams was so important as to sacrifice the result of the game for one man? Are Ruddock's opinions more important than seeing Cardiff win?

The first half e was a complete shock to Stade and the home support – both were shocked at just how bad Cardiff were. Williams could not throw the ball to a Blue Jersey in the line out, unless the throw was crooked, and Young's decision to stick with Williams and the ineffictive Martin Jones meant the scrums was soon going backwards. Young chose Mr Yips ahead of TRT, and Jones over the fit again Ben Evans and reaped his reward. So proud was Young of his chose, that he failed to take any action and replace the two lightweights until the game was well beyond the home team.

However, even with absolutely no possession throughout the first half hour Cardiff were matching Stade on the score board. Skrela got the first points on the board with Quinnell giving away a silly penalty, but Cardiff were in the match by clever kicking from Lee Thomas. In between attempts at goal we had a little bit of rugby with quick ball (such a rarity with Smith at half back) freeing Rhys Williams who fed Vaughton but his chip ahead was hacked into touch by Dominici.

We had, by this time of the game, half an hour of absolutely nothing.

Cardiff couldn't win a ball in the line out so they had absolutely no possession at all, and each time Stade had it they would kick it away. The couple of times they did run for more than two phases we saw the Cardiff Williams Sisters (Rhys and Martyn) turning the ball over in the tackle, and Cardiff cleared their lines.

Still, we approached half time with the crowd in a state of shock as to how the Cardiff front five - consisting only of Fester as the other four were doing as little as possible - were still on the pitch. What was Dai Young looking at? How long would it take for him to find Ruddock's number to ask him to change the hooker?

Stade, however, had now worked out how to beat Cardiff (keep kicking the ball into touch) so replaced the supposedly injured Bergamasco with the kicking Quesada. To bring an Argentinian international outside half from the bench showed the gulf in budget between the two teams.

Quesada soon marked his presence on the field with a drop goal as Stade got bored after running through two phases of play, so we thought that half time would bring a rocket from Young to the underperformers and that we had escaped with just a 6 -3 deficit.

However, we weren’t gambling on the best bit of schoolboy rugby seen at CAP for many a year.

A 21 year old wing from Paris took a short pass from Pichot and brushed off Martyn Williams, Tom Shanklin, Craig Morgan and Jonny Vaughton to score from about 70 metres. To concede a try from first phase play is poor defence: to concede a try like this was just plain poor play from players who should know better. All the home team went to tackle the runner at body angles that a schoolmaster would scream at his pupils for, but poor old Young has to deal with this on a professional level.

Half time was a surreal experience in the ground. Many could not believe what they had just witnessed. The level was undoubtedly on a par with schoolboys playing seniors, except that the schoolboys would have put in more effort. That the team received only muted boos at half time was more to do with the shock of the home supporters than the performance of the players.

Soon after the break, and the appearance of Dewdney on the wing instead of Vaughton, our confusion was made even greater. It seemed as though Young had given the instruction to run the ball back at Stade rather than keep kicking the ball away and Craig Morgan followed this to the letter.

A wayward kick in field from Stade was met with a lazy chase that even Nick Walne would have been proud of. Stade had been so used to Morgan kicking the ball back to them that they left a huge gap into which the fullback chipped the ball. He regathered his own kick and met support from Shanklin, Rhys Williams and, finally, Dewdney who scored in the corner. Hope at last!!! The bois had learned that running with the ball was the way to beat these Parisian cosmopolitans……..

Hope was unfounded, however, as Williams still gave the ball away in the line out and the French were able to step up a level to create two tries of their own. Dominici attacked and Pichot kicked and soon Paris were camped in the Cardiff 22. Spreadbury penalised Quinnell for lazy running/offside play/because he hadn’t in a while and the 10 minutes that he was off the field was to be the turning moment of the game.

Of course, Stade were able to get two line outs in the Cardiff 22 during this time and without Quinnell to drive up against, it was easy for the French to score two tries during the 10 minutes Cardiff were down by a man. That meant they were down to about 11, not 14.

The game was now well out of the reach of Cardiff even though Young had finally replaced Gareth Williams with Rhys Thomas - talk about after the horse had bolted. The impact of the new hooker was immediate and Cardiff scored their second Dewdney try as a line out was finally won. Thomas drove on from second phase and a small gap was created for Rhys Williams to dance through and pass to Dewdney who was following the ball in his normal style.

The clock was ticking away which meant that counter attacking from your own goal line was necessary for Cardiff, only for a Rhys Williams kick to be charged down to allow Quesada to score an easy try. This sad facet of play summed up the performance of Cardiff and the last minute penalty from Stade (as they had already secured their bonus point) was a fair summary of their kick and clap tactics.

This game was dire and it was no surprise that the players were booed off the pitch at the end of the game.

Sure Cardiff are missing a number of first team regulars - the Robinson brothers and Dan Baugh to name but three. But this defeat was down to rank bad selection and decision making by an obdurate coach who simply fails to instil any sort of confidence in his players. Spouting off in the press about how everybody expects too much of Cardiff is tantamount to saying that he's got a squad of no hopers. Now you may well believe that he does - in fact - have a squad of no hopers, but he's hardly building their confidence by his public persona. Supporters head dropped when they saw the team he'd selected, but when the players saw their hooker throw so much ball to the opposition, any self belief disappeared. Quinnell fought a one many war up front, but with no support around him, it was never going to be enough.

Young should have selected TRT and Ben Evans (as we suggested last week). Young is not thick skinned - he's plain stupid not to see how humiliated he was when TRT joined the game and Cardiff won every single lineout from that point onwards. If that's not sticking two fingers up at the coach, we don't know what is! Once more, it's clear to see that Nathan Thomas is not up to this standard, and Budgett should have been selected at least to put pressure on the Stade lineout. At no time in the game did the home side look like contesting opposition ball.

In the back line, Rhys Williams was yards ahead of the giant statues in the Stade backline, and Morgan's inventiveness was one of the few bright sparks on the night. However, Shanklin is not even half the player he was a year ago. His confidence is compeletely shot and there's NO self belief left.

Dai, we've backed you this season and believed we've seen improvement in your team. But your selection policy before this game, coupled with a total arogance in not realising the error in your selection borders on crass ignorance putting your own ego before what was best for Cardiff OR EVEN GARETH WILLIAMS. By refusing to substitute him, you exposes him to the jeers and boos of the home crowd. His confidence must be lower than Shanklins. He probably doesn't want to throw in to another lineout.

So shorn of confidence are Young's selections, that it is difficult to see where a win can come from this season. We can only hope that the return of the missing injured will lift the team, though with Young's selection policy, heaven only knows whether they'll get a game. When captain, we jokingly dubbed him Mr Motivator. But things are even worse now. He cannot instil the confidence necessary for his players to believe in themselves. And now his players are being jeered and rediculed by the home crowd. How many more defeats will the club endure before changes are made? Does anyone on the board even care any more?

15
Craig Morgan
7
/10
he started the counter attack to lead to Dewdney’s first try and he seemed to be in control of his position all night. What he lacks is any sense of "presence" when he enters the line. Some variety is needed, but he's clearly another who lacks confidence to get more involved at first or second phase. He seems to see his role as merely that of a counter-attacker.
14
Nick Walne
2
/10
the pace at which he chases kicks is somewhere below milk float speed and, indeed it seems as though he spends the whole game as though he had been up all day delivering milk. We would be better off with Benny Hill. Dreadfully low on confidencea and barely interested in what's going on. His opposite number charged in support inside the scrum half off first phase, but there's no sign from Walne - nor indeed from anyone on the coaching staff - that they've got a clue on how to use wingers in the modern game. Gatland regularly brings Voyce and Lewsy into the attack from second phase - Cardiff's wings are paid to stand around and wait for the ball to come to them. Geraint John clearly does not study what better coaches are up to. The big man with pace has now completed the course and undergone the full talentochtomy.
13
Gethin Rhys Williams
8
/10
We saw yet another performance of leading from the front, with clever attacking and a varied kicking game. In fact, he was the Cardiff back line. He created the second try for Dewdney and generally was enthusiastic throughout. He was sadly let down by many of his team mates.
12
Tom Shanklin
2
/10
just when Cardiff needed a game breaker and an International centre to replace Allen and Muller, Shanklin seems to have gone missing. His game is tentative and the only clean break he made all night was embarassingly slow. His first reaction was to look for someone to offload to - just back yourself Tom and Go For It! What the hell is Young doing to motivate his team and fill them with confidence? Woodward was famous for his mind games and below the pegs in the changing room at Twickenham, he used to put picture of his players scoring tries, beating men, making great kicks with headlines shouting how brilliant they were. If Young putting up pictures of cuddly animals?
11
Johnny Vaughton
2
/10
went off injured at half time as he seemed to have had a nose bleed trying to make a tackle on his opponent as he was scoring. This man really needs to get involved more in the game (as he did taking one inside pass) because he has the talent. Needs to seriously bulk up. Is he doing any weight training?
10
Lee Thomas
6
/10
another strong performance of good kicking and solid tackling. We even saw him taking the crash ball on attacking play, but his character was perfectly highlighted with a thumping tackle on the Stade number 8. This was the only time the Frenchmen went anywhere near the young 20 year old and the back row gave up carrying the ball altogether.
9
Richard Malcolm Smith
2
/10
Great tactical move Dai! Care to explain exactly what you were trying to achieve? This was another performance of getting to the break down late and then further delaying the pass so that, by the time the outside half gets the ball, the opposition backs have pitched up a tent to wait for the tackle. Really not good enough for this level.
8
Kort Schubert
4
/10
not a vintage performance from Schubert with a lack of ball for him to use.
7
Martyn Williams
8
/10
another performance of carrying the pack on his shoulders as he constantly got in the way of the Stade play, turned over ball and still had time to make tap tackles on Dominici.
6
Nathan Thomas
3
/10
one charge down and a catch or two in the line out apart, Thomas was totally ineffective again. Nothing changes.
5
Deiniol Jones
0
/10
We saw yet another performance of running to the wrong side of the ruck and of deliberately driving at the side of mauls so that he was out of the way for the next push. He is almost taking the Mickey out of the name of the club as he playing well below his (already low) talent threshold.
4
Craig Quinnell
6
/10
Fester showed just how important he is to the team by what happened when he was off the pitch. The Stade catch and drive was ineffective against a maul containing Fester, but without him Cardiff conceded two tries. Thank you Mr Spreadbury for your premeidated decision making! Quinnell is vital to the team in every way – carrying the ball, scrummaging, rucking and mauling.
3
Martin Jones
0
/10
the complete opposite to Craig Quinnell.
2
Gareth Williams
0
/10
undoubtedly he is the bravest man in Welsh rugby as he keeps allowing himself to be picked each week. His game has fallen apart gradually this season but what we saw was a Europe-wide public humiliation of a man who was selected as the only fully professional Welsh hooker in the Welsh squad. What happens next for Williams is that he will be out of Cardiff for the next month and that could do him the world of good.
1
Gethin Jenkins
2
/10
injured early on in the game, so he should have been replaced in the first half. He was slow between rucks and not his effervescent self in tackling defence either.