World Cup - Team Guide: Wales

Thu, 08 Sep 17:12:00 2011

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Wales players react after being defeated by France in their Six Nations rugby union match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis - 0

WALES

Colours: Red shirt, white shorts.

World ranking: 6.

Coach: Warren Gatland.

An improved Six Nations this year – with three wins from five games - has eased the pressure on the New Zealander after a dreadful 2010. He should feel the most secure of all the World Cup coaches with a contract until after the 2015 tournament.

Squad:

BACKS Born Caps Tries Cons Pens DGs Pts

Aled Brew 9/8/86 7 1 0 0 0 5

Lee Byrne 1/6/80 44 9 0 0 0 45

Jonathan Davies 5/4/88 14 2 0 0 0 10

Leigh Halfpenny 22/12/88 20 7 0 9 0 62

James Hook 27/6/85 54 12 39 51 4 303

Stephen Jones 8/12/77 100 7 142 184 6 889

Tavis Knoyle 2/6/90 5 0 0 0 0 0

George North 13/4/92 8 6 0 0 0 30

Mike Phillips 29/8/82 54 6 0 0 0 30

Rhys Priestland 7/1/87 4 0 2 2 0 10

Jamie Roberts 8/11/86 32 2 0 0 0 10

Lloyd Williams 30/11/89 1 0 0 0 0 0

Scott Williams 10/10/90 4 0 0 0 0 0

Shane Williams 26/2/77 81 54 0 0 0 270

FORWARDS

Huw Bennett 11/6/83 42 0 0 0 0 0

Ryan Bevington 9/12/88 4 0 0 0 0 0

Lloyd Burns 9/12/84 3 0 0 0 0 0

Luke Charteris 9/3/83 25 0 0 0 0 0

Bradley Davies 9/1/87 24 0 0 0 0 0

Toby Faletau 12/11/90 3 0 0 0 0 0

Paul James 13/5/82 26 0 0 0 0 0

Gethin Jenkins 17/11/80 76 3 0 0 0 15

Adam Jones 8/3/81 70 2 0 0 0 10

Alun Wyn Jones 19/9/85 52 6 0 0 0 30

Ryan Jones 13/3/81 53 1 0 0 0 5

Dan Lydiate 18/12/87 14 0 0 0 0 0

Craig Mitchell 3/5/86 10 0 0 0 0 0

Ken Owens 3/1/87 0 0 0 0 0 0

Andy Powell 23/8/81 18 1 0 0 0 5

Sam Warburton 5/10/88 17 1 0 0 0 5

Key player: James Hook.

A victim of his own versatility, but it was noticeable that Wales produced their best performances in the 2011 Six Nations when Hook was at fly-half. The mercurial Ospreys star gives Wales more in attack at number 10 than Stephen Jones, but Jones is more reliable. It is quite a dilemma for Warren Gatland.

2010-11 form:

6/11/10 v Australia (Cardiff) L 16-25

13/11/10 v South Africa (Cardiff) L 25-29

19/11/10 v Fiji (Cardiff) D 16-16

27/11/10 v New Zealand (Cardiff) L 25-37

4/2/11 v England (Cardiff) L 19-26

12/2/11 v Scotland (Edinburgh) W 24-6

26/2/11 v Italy (Rome) W 24-16

12/3/11 v Ireland (Cardiff) W 19-13

19/3/11 v France (Paris) L 9-28

4/6/11 v Barbarians (Cardiff) L 28-31

6/8/11 v England (Twickenham) L 19-23

13/8/11 v England (Cardiff) W 19-9

20/8/11 v Argentina (Cardiff) W 28-13

World Cup pedigree:

Third: 1987.

Quarter-finals: 1999, 2003.

Group stage: 1991, 1995, 2007.

Record: P25, W14, D0, L11.

Most appearances: Gareth Thomas 14.

Most points: Neil Jenkins 98.

Most tries: Ieuan Evans, Gareth Thomas, Shane Williams 7.

High:

The first World Cup in 1987, when Wales achieved their highest ever placing after a dramatic 22-21 victory over Australia in the third-place play-off. Paul Thorburn’s nerveless conversion of an injury-time Adrian Hadley try eventually sank the 14-man Wallabies, who had David Codey sent off after only four minutes.

Low:

It’s hard to know which one to pick – 1991, when Wales lost 16-13 to Western Samoa in Cardiff, or 2007, when they were edged out 34-38 by Fiji in Nantes, since both defeats led to exits at the group stage. However, the first loss was probably the worst, as it was one of the biggest shocks in rugby history at the time.

Hero: Paul Thorburn.

Not only did the full-back kick the conversion in the fifth minute of injury time that gave Wales a nailbiting 22-21 win over Australia in 1987 in Rotorua, he also gave the try-scoring pass to winger Adrian Hadley and contributed 10 points in total to the surprise win.

Villain: Patrick Robin.

While Wales’ 1991 loss to Western Samoa in Cardiff was a huge embarrassment, the French referee helped the Samoans on their way with the award of a dubious second-half try to To’o Vaega, who was adjudged to have touched down before Robert Jones when television replays showed otherwise. Unfortunately for Wales, there was no video official in those days.

2011 prospects:

Wales’s group is littered with potential pitfalls. As if being drawn in a pool with the defending champions – South Africa – is not enough, they also have Samoa, to whom they have twice lost in the World Cup, and Fiji, who beat them in 2007, to contend with. It’s enough to give Warren Gatland plenty of sleepless nights.

Group matches:

11/9/11 v South Africa (Wellington)

18/9/11 v Samoa (Hamilton)

26/9/11 v Namibia (New Plymouth)

2/10/11 v Fiji (Hamilton)

Eurosport

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