A tribute to Wales

Overall this has been a cracker of a world cup despite disappointing tournaments from England and South Africa – and France despite them reaching the final, and Ireland, Scotland and Argentina being not quite good enough.

We’ll find out tonight which of New Zealand and Australia crash, they will probably mostly judged on this result.

I’ve enjoyed watching the second tier teams in most of the games they have played.

But I’d like to pay tribute to one of the shining stars of the tournament – Wales. They weren’t rated highly coming into the tournament, but they showed on the field that they had the preparation and attitude to make a mark, and they did.

Wales earned much rugby respect in New Zealand, deservedly. Many in the team contributed to this, notably up and coming flanker and captain Sam Warburton, and the team as a whole. Warren Gatland and his coaching team also deserve much credit.

I would have liked to see Wales playing in the final, against the All Blacks of course (through hope rather than expectation), but it’s not to be. A heavy pre-game shower of rain, a momentary tackle mistake, some off target kicking, and the French not quite playing badly enough to lose meant a very creditable but one week early exit for Wales.

Apart from the All Blacks the Welsh team is the only team in the 2011 Rugby World Cup that has not been outplayed in a game (just beaten by a narrow points margin a couiple of times).

I don’t usually feel empathy for the country of origin of my mother’s family, but I almost feel some pride in the boyos. Whatever – I salute some great sportmen and a nearly great team. I think this team’s time will come as long as they learn and grow from this experience.