Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wales v Japan

Rugby World Cup: Wales makes 10 changes to play Japan in Group B match

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
CARDIFF, Wales: Wales made 10 changes to its team to play Japan on Thursday, while captain Gareth Thomas is expected to return for the following Rugby World Cup match against Fiji.

The five players to remain in the team from the 32-20 defeat Saturday to Australia are flyhalf Stephen Jones, winger Shane Williams, backrowers Colin Charvis and Jonathan Thomas and lock Alun-Wyn Jones.

Thomas injured his ribs while being tackled by Wallabies center Stirling Mortlock in the first half at the Millennium Stadium. He hopes to be fit to for Wales' last Group B match on Sept. 29 in Nantes.

"We are pleased to be able to announce that Gareth's injury is very much a short-term one," Wales coach Gareth Jenkins said Tuesday.

"He should be back and available to us in two weeks. We were always mindful of reacting too quickly to his injury before proper time and consideration had been given to assessing him, but this news does come as a real shot in the arm for us."

Jenkins brought in Kevin Morgan at fullback, Dafydd James on the wing, Jamie Robinson and James Hook in the centers, and Mike Phillips at scrumhalf in backline changes.

In the forwards, Alix Popham comes in at No. 8, moving Jonathan Thomas to blindside flanker and Colin Charvis to openside. There is a new frontrow with hooker Rhys Thomas and props Chris Horsman and Duncan Jones, while lock Will James will play his first game in 10 months after shoulder and collarbone injuries.

"We have kept a core of experienced players in key positions for us," Jenkins said. "But we have made a number of changes with two factors in mind: the short turnaround time for this game has an effect on selection, but we also have a need to give certain players game time as we are going to be calling on all resources during this tournament.

"A number of players will be itching to get out there and make their mark on this World Cup and we have the strength in a number of positions to allow us to reassess form and grow the experience in our squad."

Fullback Go Aruga has failed to recover from an ankle injury and is the only Japanese change from the 35-31 to Fiji in Toulouse on Sept. 12.

Coach John Kirwan has switched around his backs, however. Hirotoki Onozawa comes into the starting lineup on the left wing, with Kosuko Endo switching to the other flank and Christian Loamanu moving to fullback.

After being beaten 91-3 by Australia, Japan will be knocked out of the tournament if it loses to Wales.


Wales: Kevin Morgan, Dafydd James, Jamie Robinson, James Hook, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones (captain), Michael Phillips; Duncan Jones, Rhys Thomas, Chris Horsman, Will James, Alun-Wyn Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Colin Charvis, Alix Popham.

Replacements: Huw Bennett, Gethin Jenkins, Ian Evans, Martyn Williams, Gareth Cooper, Ceri Sweeney, Tom Shanklin.

Japan: Christian Loamanu, Kosuke Endo, Yuta Imamura, Shotaro Onishi, Hirotoki Onozawa, Bryce Robins, Tomoki Yoshida; Tatsukichi Nishiura, Yuji Matsubara, Tomokazu Soma, Hitoshi Ono, Luke Thompson, Hare Makiri, Philip O'Reilly, Takuro Miuchi (captain).

Replacements: Taku Inokuchi, Ryo Yamamura, Takanori Kumagae, Yasunori Watanabe, Chulwon Kim, Koji Taira, Tatsuya Kusumi.



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Copyright © 2007 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com

Wales not good enough!!

Size irrelevant to Wales’ failingsSep 18 2007

by Delme Parfitt, South Wales Echo

WALES’ World Cup deficiencies have nothing to do with size and bulk – and everything to do with pure playing ability and mental approach.

That was the stark message today from legendary grizzler Graham Price and former Wales and Lions conditioning coach Steve Black, as it emerged that the weight and height of the Welsh and Australian packs last Saturday were almost exactly the same.

The Wallabies eight tipped the scales at a combined 913 kilograms with Wales at 912.

Not only that, but the average weight of individual forwards was precisely level at 114kg per man – and all this amid claims Wales were wasting their time trying to arm-wrestle the Aussies. Even the average heights of the team showed a difference of just one centimetre.

“You can have the perfect body but it’s about how you apply yourself on a rugby pitch and whether you are smart enough,” said Price.
CARDIFF, 17 September - Just to play an IRB Rugby World Cup match would represent a victory for injury-plagued Wales second row Ian Evans.

Evans, 22, jumped out of the blocks in Test rugby, scoring a try on debut against Argentina in 2006.

But he managed just four more matches before a dislocated shoulder in December sidelined him until early August when he suffered a collarbone injury in training and returned to the casualty list. Until now.

"When I first got injured it was inconceivable that I'd be here in France," Evans said.

"It's been a long road but I've finally got here. To make the field would just top it off."

Repaying the faith

Wales play Japan at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday and the 203cm forward is hopeful of wearing the number five jersey.

"Physically I'm in the best shape of my career," he said. "Obviously there is some pressure to repay the coaches for the faith they have shown in me but I have no doubts about myself whatsoever."

Evans, who spent the first five years of his life in South Africa, has made the gym his second home over the past 10 months.

"Probably the worst thing is training by yourself in the gym, away from all your team-mates. It's a lonely world," he admitted.

With this in mind, Evans has vowed not to let the opportunity slip should he be selected for Thursday's crucial encounter.

"After 10 months I'm sick of the sight of the gym. I'm ready to play some rugby."

Jonathan judges things so far...............

Early tactical plan cost Wales dear

Sep 18 2007

by Jonathan Davies, Western Mail

LOOK at England and Ireland’s struggles and you would rather be Wales coach Gareth Jenkins than either Brian Ashton or Eddie O’Sullivan at the moment.

Wales tried to play too much football early on against Australia.

You have got to get behind the gain-line, and they didn’t do it in the first half. The Australian defence absolutely smashed them.

When you try to play too much football and things don’t happen, you then lose patience and suddenly you are on the back foot. Wales also kicked badly.

When Wales get across the gain-line, they can cause problems for anyone, but Australia are a very good side and they were extremely clinical. I like watching them play.

Tactically, I thought Wales got it a little bit wrong in the first half.

Wales got over the gain-line in the second half and they didn’t get isolated so much.

But with Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock going off, they took their foot off the pedal a little bit. They knew the game was won.

It was painful – very painful – watching England’s inept World Cup performance against South Africa at Stade de France.

I watched it in a pub – the Butcher’s Arms in Llandaff – and I took a bet off a mate who said South Africa would win by 30 clear points. I gave him a tenner at half-time.

I just don’t know what England are trying to do.

They are very slow and ponderous up front, and there is a lack of creativity behind the scrum. I think they had a game-plan to kick the ball against South Africa, but they didn’t do it very well.

It all made for painful viewing. They were devoid of ideas, and now they have really got to start thinking about which personnel they play in the next couple of games against Samoa and Tonga.

I think England will win those two matches, but not if they perform as ineptly as they did against South Africa.

If you have difficulty scoring points, then it is obvious you are always going to be involved in close games.

Because England are not creating tries, then they are going to be caught up in tight games.

Make no mistake, this is a huge couple of weeks for England, and there is no doubt both Samoa and Tonga could cause upsets.

Much has been said about Andy Farrell’s presence in the team, but if other players are not running off him then there is no point in Andy (below) being there.

Maybe England will go with a direct midfield approach and field the likes of Dan Hipkiss and Mathew Tait against Samoa, and if Jonny Wilkinson is there on Saturday, his mere presence will give them confidence.

People have said that Ashton should have picked Lawrence Dallaglio for the South Africa game, but I don’t feel he would have made much difference. He is not the most dynamic player any more.

England had a game-plan that failed disastrously. They might think they can dominate the Samoans and Tongans up front, but if they want to progress in this tournament then they must find a cutting edge in order to score points.

As for Ireland, I don’t know what’s happened with them.

They were one of the favoured northern hemisphere sides, but they had a poor August and in the two games so far against Namibia and Georgia they haven’t shown any continuity or imagination.

They have really struggled and were lucky to beat Georgia.

Ireland’s group was always going to be a close one, and a spanner was thrown into the works when Argentina beat France in the tournament’s opening game.

Ireland have now got to beat one of those sides, maybe both. It’s going to go down to the wire, and they could end up ruing a missed bonus point against Georgia.

It is going to be extremely difficult for Ireland now. They are not playing with any kind of form, and the two matches where they could have played themselves into form – against Namibia and Georgia – have now gone.

France also know they can’t afford to lose against Ireland on Friday. It is effectively knockout rugby now.

For me though, the weekend once again underlined how well the southern hemisphere big three – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – are playing.

It has been the story of the tournament so far.