World falls in on woeful Welsh

Clem Thomas sees a match that left both sides with little to crow about
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The Independent Online
THIS WAS a game only for the faithful, for these two teams have become the poor men of European rugby. Wales have registered only six wins in 24 games in the Five Nations' Championship to Ireland's five; England, meanwhile, have won 20, France 14 and Scotland 13. On this evidence you could see why, for this was a game of dire ineptitude which had the crowd breaking into the Mexican wave out of sheer boredom.

Both teams are now lagging behind in world terms and, if this game was a preview of the pool match in South Africa, which will take one or other into the quarter-finals of the World Cup, then, even at this distance, it looks as good as a bye for their opponents in that quarter-final.

You really could not have picked one good team from the both of them, and the Irish and Welsh must now realise that both countries are rapidly being marginalised by the big guns of England, France and the southern hemisphere.

The Irish, who deserved to win, were well served by Jim Staples at full- back, who was like a rock under the high ball, and by their half-backs Niall Hogan, who came in for the dropped Michael Bradley, and also by Paul Burke, who came on as replacement for Eric Elwood. Their pack lasted the pace better than the Welsh.

This defeat, their fifth in the Five Nations in a row, could have serious consequences for the Welsh coaches, in spite of the pleas by senior players for their retention. I gather that Robert Norster has been sounded out regarding his attitude if Alan Davies and Gareth Jenkins are asked to quit. He has said that he, too, would go.

Wales failed again in the forwards, but most of their backs, even Robert Jones and Ieuan Evans, were also out of sorts. So Wales have gone from champions to chumps and the Australian coach Alan Jones's remark that one day you're a crowing rooster and the next a feather duster was never truer.

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