Rugby Union: Wales try to rebuild shattered confidence with wholesale changes

KEVIN BOWRING, the Wales coach, may have been "embarrassed, hurt and humiliated" by the capitulation of his side during their Five Nations nightmare at Twickenham 11 days ago, but he was emphatic in his insistence yesterday that the Welsh Rugby Union was fully behind his latest attempt to rebuild national morale. It was an uncomfortable moment; as any football manager might have pointed out, Bowring would do far better to keep his employers in front of him, where he can see them.

The former London Welsh flanker is far too shrewd and intelligent an operator not to realise that his backside is squarely on the line following the 60-point seeing-to from England. Bowring has made eight changes, two of them positional, for this weekend's "home" match with Scotland at Wembley and the wholesale renovation work looks and smells as though it was carried out in some dark corner of the Last Chance Saloon.

"My contract runs through to next year's World Cup," said Bowring, fully aware that Richie Dixon, Brian Ashton, Willie Anderson, Dick Best and Bob Dwyer had contracts too. The critical fall-out from Twickenham has been so poisonous as to border on the radioactive and defeat this weekend would generate such public opprobrium that the WRU might feel obliged to act.

Terry Cobner, Wales' director of rugby, set the emotional tone for yesterday's hair-shirt session in Cardiff. "When I go to bed at night, the England disappointment is the last thing I think of; when I wake up in the morning, it's the first thing on my mind," he admitted. Bowring seemed equally prepared to wear his heart on his sleeve as he described the debilitating experience of the last week or so. "It's been so painful, not just for me but for my family and friends," he said.

"The history of the Wales-England fixture means so much to the people here. It represents the small country taking on the might of the big country and when we do well, it lifts the nation. We didn't lift anyone at Twickenham, we let them down." The subtext of his words was clear. He dare not let anyone down this time.

Bowring has placed his immediate future in the hands - or, to be more accurate, the right boot - of Neil Jenkins, who returns at outside-half for the more extravagantly gifted Arwel Thomas. Jenkins' performance at Twickenham in the full-back position he so publicly detests was almost too painful to watch and for the coach to make Thomas one of the scapegoats for an insipid forward display is akin to blaming Van Gogh for a shortage of paintbrushes.

Still, the deed is done; Jenkins' return to life at No 10 may mean fewer moments in the sun for the likes of Allan Bateman and Gareth Thomas, but he is at least capable of playing the percentages sufficiently well to keep the Scots in the dark. To that end, Bowring has beefed up his front five by recalling Garin Jenkins at hooker, and Andy Moore, the restart specialist, at lock.

Other changes see Kevin Morgan at full-back and a reshaped back row featuring Kingsley Jones, the Ebbw Vale captain, alongside two more Swansea men, Rob Appleyard and Colin Charvis. That means a pointed relegation for Scott Quinnell, whose contribution at Twickenham subsided from the intermittent to the non- existent.

Ireland, meanwhile, have recalled Eric Elwood and Conor McGuinness at half-back for their thankless trip to France. Rob Henderson replaces the injured Mark McCall at centre while Victor Costello fills in for the flu- ridden Eric Miller at No 8. The new coach, Warren Gatland, will choose between two open-side flankers, Kieron Dawson and the uncapped Andy Ward, later this week.

Wales team

(v Scotland, Wembley, Saturday)

K Morgan (Pontypridd)

W Proctor (Llanelli)

A Bateman (Richmond)

S Gibbs (Swansea)

G Thomas (Cardiff)

N Jenkins (Pontypridd)

R Howley (Cardiff, capt)

A Lewis (Cardiff)

G Jenkins (Swansea)

D Young (Cardiff)

M Voyle (Llanelli)

A Moore (Swansea)

R Appleyard (Swansea)

K Jones (Ebbw Vale)

C Charvis (Swansea)

Replacements: L Davies (Cardiff), A Thomas (Swansea), P John (Pontypridd), S Quinnell (Richmond), S Roy (Pontypridd), L Mustoe (Cardiff), J Humphreys (Cardiff).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England