I actually cannot believe this score-line, despite having heard from one of my colleagues in work this morning that Wales had been comfortably swept aside by the Super Rugby outfit in Hamilton.
What an absolute disaster.
I remained optimistic following Saturday’s brave effort against the All Blacks. I follow a bit of the Super Rugby tournament, and I’m well aware of the quality the Chiefs have in their ranks (eight of whom, I should point out, are currently away with the New Zealand squad). I thought this had the potential to be a very competitive fixture, and while a I thought a narrow loss in a high scoring game was one possible eventuality, I wouldn’t have dared predict the horror show in Hamilton.
Scrolling through a list of Wales’ match-day 22 makes me even more confused – and a little angry, actually. OK, there were a small number of last-minute changes to today’s team, most likely to accommodate the preferred combinations required for Saturday’s second test against the All Blacks. However, Scott Williams started, as did Luke Charteris, who is fresh from Top 14 action in France.
I look at the likes of Josh Turnbull – my Cardiff Blues’ player of the season – as well as Eli Walker, Tom James, Matthew Morgan, Gareth Davies. These are all first choice players for their respective regions/clubs. Some of them featured in Saturday’s first test match, but this is the gruelling nature of the summer tours.
The fact is, the chasm in quality between our respective club competitions is vast, and, contrary to our beliefs and hopes, it seems to be getting even bigger.
I’ve only seen the “highlights”, so to speak, but I’m baffled by the seeming lack of commitment. My workmate earlier commented, “no-one wanted the ball, no-one wanted to run into contact”. Well, this was meant to be a trial to potentially win a place in Saturday’s squad.
The signs are not good. Wales could get absolutely blown away on Saturday at this rate. I can’t help but feel, with England having beaten Australia, and Ireland seeing off South Africa over the weekend, Wales are falling behind. Granted, we are facing the World Champions in their own backyard. But this is professional sport and we haven’t beaten the All Blacks in 27 attempts.
Based on today’s result, I’d say we’re as far from beating them as ever before.