The final weeks of last season were dark days at Cowbridge RFC.
We’ve never been a ‘great’ club but the run of results that the boys had put together meant the small town side were in the worst position they’d been in for many seasons as they sat on the very bottom of the league.
This Saturday the boys kicked off their 2011/12 campaign down at the Fred Dunn Athletic Ground, buoyed by a good pre-season and with more youth in their ranks than they’ve had for some time, they lined up against unfamiliar foe in the form of Hirwaun.
…80 minutes later and the boys were in possession of the big ‘W’ with an astonishing 45-11 victory. Hopefully this will spur the boys on to a successful season and a new dawn for Cowbridge RFC, anything is possible.
Anything IS possible…
On last Thursday’s Rugby Club, Stuart Barnes stated that, Wales are the ‘in form’ home nation going into this month’s world cup. Momentum counts for everything in knock out competitions and Wales’ first match against South Africa will no doubt be the sides most important game of the tournament, no matter how far they progress.
I’ve said before that as a proud Welsh patriot I suffer from the most extreme optimism in the lead up to any competition. The World Cup it would appear is no exception. Just a month ago I had lost all faith in the national side but, a couple of encouraging performances and a win over England may have changed my mind.
OK, so I’m not saying we’re world beaters but if we can get passed the current world champions in our first game then anything can happen. The Boks are hardly a walkover, after looking lacklustre and immensely disorganised over the southern hemisphere winter, last game out, in the final round of the Tri-Nations they sprang a surprise on the hosts and beat them.
There are jokes a plenty about New Zealand and their ‘choker’ status, after all, they’re planning on performing the Heimlich maneuver instead of the Haka in their opening game against Tonga on Friday night…
With the exception of the defending champions we do not have the hardest of groups. I mean no disprespect to the Pacific Island nations, but Wales have beaten England and Argentina in the past month, they can deal with physicality and their conditioning and fitness has set them aside this summer and they enter the competition with renewed vigour.
To England and the Manu show as it’s surely becoming, the 2003 winners meet Argentina in their opener. Next year 3 become 4 in the tri-nations competition as the South Americans join in the Southern Hemisphere’s annual international tournament.
Their inclusion surely shows the progress they’ve made as a rugby nation and that’s without considering that they finished higher than both Australia and the All Blacks in 2007’s RWC, when they claimed 3rd place.
But this will just be the beginning for England, with fellow home nation Scotland also occupying the same group. Whilst the Scots haven’t exactly put on inspiring performances they’ve done enough to record all important wins in their warm ups, just like England, they beat Ireland in their warm ups.
Ireland the last home nation to secure a 6 Nations Grand Slam may be standing tall and shoulder to shoulder but also worried and bemused. An awful RWC run in, a serious knee injury to back row stalwart David Wallace will only stoke the flames of doubt and depression that must run through the competition.
Psychology has a massive place in sport and USA Rugby may not have looked like the worst opener when the fixtures were released but now, the Irish will worry. They kick off their campaign on September 11th, the most poignant day there is for Americans, they have something very emotive to play for.
Rory Best has said that the first 10 minutes and containing the eagles side will be most important come Sunday because of this.
Pool C is also home to my danger team. The Wallabies are enjoying a spell of great form for their top players off the back of winning the tri-nations and an Australian franchise, Queensland Reds, winning the SuperRugby competition too.
A supremely talented team with a young spine, the creative players of Australia are to be feared ...even if many have the capacity to have mixed performances, with Quade Cooper especially prone to a fluctuation of world class displays at 10 mixed in with games filled with errors and poor decision making.
Genia however steadies the ship often when Cooper struggles, a great play-maker, he's definitely up there with SBW as one of my favourites set to star at this RWC.
So now all that's left is to set our alarm clocks, early kick offs mean that I'll be consuming cider with breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday, the things we do for the sport we love.
My excitement levels are astronomically high as I count down to round 1 of the group games, we can do this, Wales CAN beat SA, anything is possible...