Welcome to the Prince William Cup. The trophy, freshly commissioned and, apparently, inspired by the landscapes of South Africa and Wales, is on a plinth of Welsh oak lined with gold. The gold probably came from South Africa.
Although it is nowhere near as substantial as the William Webb Ellis Cup – HRH didn't pick up the ball and run with it – the Springboks put on a show worthy of world champions here yesterday. Since beating England in the final in Paris it is a fair bet that they have spent more time in the bar than the gym but, starting with nine of their gold medallists, it didn't show.
South Africa scored five tries to two in what their admirable captain, John Smit, described as a celebration, not only of his country's achievement last month but the "mark made on our lives" by Jake White. This was the coach's last Test in charge of his country and Smith said he was determined to treat the occasion with the respect it deserved.
For Wales it turned out to be a very dubious experience. The inauguration of the Prince William Cup was presumably meant to lend some meaning to what a cynic would describe as a meaningless exercise. Ultimately the aim was to make money and this the Welsh Rugby Union probably failed to do.
It is understood they paid the Springboks £500,000 to play and that sum would have been considerably increased by compensation to the regions who provided the home side's players. Although there was nothing false about the match – the players invariably deliver – the public was not convinced. There were upwards of 30,000 empty seats.
Wales supporters are obviously waiting for the Six Nations and the arrival of a new coach, Warren Gatland, who has signed a four-year contract. The squad must be reeling. They were just becoming accustomed to the ways of Mike Ruddock when he was replaced by Gareth Jenkins who, of course, was sacked after Wales failed to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Had they done so they would have played South Africa.
The sooner Gatland, a New Zealander who had success with Ireland and Wasps, arrives, the better. Wales were no match for the Boks. From the moment Francois Steyn – a World Cup winner's medal at 20 and maybe more to come – landed a huge penalty in the third minute, South Africa looked very good indeed. Their first try arrived on 20 minutes when Andre Pretorius slipped a lovely pass to Juan Smith and the flanker had too much pace and power for James Hook and Morgan Stoddart.
After Hook had hooked a penalty attempt from no more than 20 yards, Wales, in the space of three minutes, found themselves 22-0 down. Following half a dozen phases, Smit found himself on the right flank where he delivered a perfect pass to Jaque Fourie, who was in. A few minutes later Pretorius' inside pass released the wing JP Pietersen, who danced through before sending Fourie in unopposed.
A minute before the interval Stoddart, making his debut, injected some pace into Wales' attack and his kick and chase produced a rare error from his opposite number, Ruan Pienaar. In the ensuing chaos Colin Charvis capitalised. It was his 22nd try in international rugby, a world record for a forward.
It was about the only consolation for the hosts, who fell further behind at the opening of the second half. The great Bryan Habana took a low pass, shredded the defence and sent in Pietersen on the overlap. It all looked so easy, so pacy, so classy.
Wales, whose line-out and defence were stretched to the limit, got a break when Albert van den Berg, only on the field for a few minutes, received a yellow card for killing the ball. Hook made the most of it, his cross-kick to the right finding Stoddart. The young Scarlets full-back did extremely well to touch down, on his back and under the noses of Steyn and Habana. Perhaps Wales have found a No 15 for the Six Nations.
The referee, Chris White, lectured both captains after a flare-up and this was followed by the spectacle of CJ van der Linde attempting to remove Mike Phillips' head.
The fifth try from the visitors arrived in the 67th minute when they converted a turnover and the No 8 Ryan Kankowski, the sole new cap, sold a dummy and cantered over as Tom Shanklin faced three attackers.
Nigel Davies, the caretaker Wales coach, had taken his players down the Big Pit, the last remaining coalmine in Wales, "to experience a little of what many of their ancestors went through". "Working hard and working together is something we want to emulate," he said. They might have been better off watching a re-run of Zulu. Men of Harlech stop your dreaming, etc.
This was an impressive victory by the Boks, in their 18th Test of the year. This time last year White was close to losing his job. Next week he will talk to Sir Clive Woodward. "I want to talk to someone who has won the World Cup about what I should do next," he said. He should apply for the England manager's job – not with the RFU, but the FA.
Wales: M Stoddart (Llanelli Scarlets); M Jones (Scarlets), S Parker (Ospreys), G Henson (Ospreys), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues); J Hook (Ospreys), D Peel (Scarlets); G Jenkins (Blues, capt), H Bennett (Ospreys), R Thomas (Newport-Gwent Dragons), I Evans (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), C Charvis (Dragons), J Thomas (Ospreys), R Sowden-Taylor (Blues). Replacements: L Charteris (Dragons) for I Evans, 53; TR Thomas (Blues) for Bennett, 53; M Phillips (Ospreys) for Peel, 53; A Popham (Scarlets) for Charvis, 61; T James (Blues) for Stoddart, 69; D Jones (Ospreys) for R Thomas, 69; C Sweeney (Dragons) for Hook, 76.
South Africa: R Pienaar (Sharks); JP Pietersen (Sharks), J Fourie (Lions), F Steyn (Sharks), B Habana (Bulls); A Pretorius (Lions), E Januarie (Lions); CJ van der Linde (Cheetahs), J Smit (Clermont Auvergne, capt), J du Plessis (Cheetahs), B Botha (Bulls), J Muller (Sharks), S Burger (Stormers), R Kankowski (Sharks), J Smith (Cheetahs). Replacements: A van den Berg (Sharks) for Botha, 40; W Olivier (Bulls) for Pretorius, 59; H van der Merwe (Lions) for J du Plessis, 64; A Ndungane (Bulls) for Pietersen, 75; B du Plessis (Sharks) for Van der Linde, 75; C Jantjes (Lions) for Januarie, 78; H Lobberts (Bulls) for Kankowski, 78.
Referee: C White (England).Reuse content