Cobner puts the accent on style

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

Wales may have won their Five Nations battle against the French last weekend, but the war on the home front remains to be won before the side can really start to make progress.

The Welsh 's director of rugby, Terry Cobner, deemed Saturday's 16-15 win over the title-chasing French to be "a step up on to the bottom rung of the ladder".

His plan to build on the feel-good factor created by Wales' first Five Nations win in nine matches is to preach the gospel of the new style adopted by the team to the coaches of the leading clubs and to those in the schools system.

"In terms of progress we have got our feet on the bottom rung of the ladder, at last. Our ultimate aim is to reach the World Cup final in three years' time," Cobner said. "We have discovered a style that suits us. Now we have to make that style instinctive at all levels, to introduce it to schools and clubs.

"The big danger on the club scene is that I will fail to influence the coaches because they are concerned about winning two league points. What I have to convince them of is that they can still do that by playing in the new Welsh style.

"I know how difficult it will be because you wouldn't have convinced me at Pontypool 15 years ago. The more progressive ones are already coming on board and they know we have to increase the tempo, commitment and skill at all levels of our game.

"Now that we are in a professional era we have to appreciate that if we want to survive we have to entertain. Referees must be aware of what we are trying to do and be sympathetic."

Wales ended one place off the bottom of the championship table thanks to their win over France, yet scored twice as many tries, six, as the eventual champions, England.

The national coach, Kevin Bowring, will have five weeks to work with his players during their Australian tour in the summer, and eight tough matches in which to test any further development.

"When we set out on the Five Nations campaign we wanted to build a team our supporters could be be proud of, a team playing with pride and passion and appreciated by the Welsh people," Bowring said.

"We tried to redevelop a style of play that was uniquely Welsh, to revert back to a game emphasising speed, speed of hand, speed of thought, playing with guile and cunning. To score tries playing a game that reflected our culture in Wales."