Jonathan Davies: Global warning for Ireland and Wales after mournful exits

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The Independent Online

While Wales and Ireland suffer mournfully in wound-licking land, I hope that they are facing up to the realism of their World Cup disasters and not looking for excuses and scapegoats.

The speed and ruthlessness with which Welsh coach Graham Jenkins was sacked might have impressed some people but I trust the Welsh Rugby Union don't believe that firing one man and hiring another is going to go anywhere near solving their problems. I'm all for swift and decisive action but only when it's a regular quality and not a one-off panic reaction to get the nation off their backs.

And getting rid of a coach and then appointing his top lieutenant as caretaker is really woolly thinking. Either the Jenkins regime had to go immediately or it didn't. But if he went, his backroom staff had to go with him.

We've had no such dramatic blood-letting from Ireland but I suggest they take a long look at their preparations for the tournament. They should have been the best-prepared team in the world. The Ireland players were spared from provincial rugby for most of the season and their efforts were concentrated solely on their international aspirations. As a result they looked stagnant, slow and ponderous – the sort of thing that happens when you don't play enough rugby.

The most under-prepared squad in France are Argentina – they invariably are – and look how well they've done. The myths are exploding all over the place.

I'm not sure Wales did the right think in getting rid of Jenkins so quickly. He certainly made mistakes, tactically and in selections, but he could have learned from them. It is said that coaches need four years to establish themselves. He hasn't had half that and it might have been an idea to leave him in charge for the Six Nations and then decide.

They've been going to appoint an elite director of rugby for months. The right man could have done a lot to help him sort himself out.

There's been much said this past week about player power in the Welsh squad. Where the hell was it? It certainly wasn't visible on the field. Dwayne Peel and Stephen Jones were tactically adrift against Fiji in a way they never would have been when they were playing for Llanelli. How did they get it so wrong because I'm sure Jenkins didn't coach them to play that way ?

Wales also got their approach wrong against Canada, Australia and Japan.

I just couldn't understand how it happened. The entire side are much better players than they looked. The WRU should have put all their efforts into discovering why before getting the gun out. They can start by examining the entire structure of the game in Wales. There is so much raw talent in Wales but little of it comes through either on the playing or the coaching side. We have never replaced the dedicated schoolteachers who did so much to develop players of my generation. I'd learned the basic skills by the time I was 11 years old and with it came game awareness that served me well throughout my career.

I'm not sure some of them are aware of what game awareness is, of thinking for yourself in the midst of the action. I talk to clubs who are bitterly disappointed at the standard of youngsters coming through the academies. They are so short of the basics that we were taught at a much earlier age.

Wales seems to have a sound set-up in place but it is not producing. It may surprise Welsh fans to learn we have a High Performance Unit in place. I don't know how they are judged but I would have thought the unit would be central to setting standards for everyone and if you were looking for a caretaker coach surely they could provide one.

There is a soft rugby culture in Wales. There is no pressure on to improve. There's not enough competition for places. No one is being driven towards higher achievement. A new coach is by no means a satisfactory answer. Wales require a completely new professional approach.

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