Tag Archives: WRU

Nigel Owens – Wales’s top official’s World Cup ambition

1 Apr
Nigel Owens hopes to head to the RWC later this year

WALES’S top referee, Nigel Owens, is focusing on hitting top form in what could be a career defining season.

The effervescent west-Walian, who was in Cardiff to referee the Welsh varsity match, finds out next week whether he is on the list of 11 elite referees selected by the IRB to officiate at this autumn’s World Cup in New Zealand.

And with a huge Heineken Cup quarter-final at the sold-out new Lansdowne Road between former champions Leicester and Leinster, as well as the possibility of taking charge of his third European final in Cardiff in May, Owens knows he needs to be at the top of his game.

“Fingers crossed I will be one of the 11 doing the world cup.

“Leinster-Leicester is a massive game with 52,000 people in the Aviva stadium. It will be as big as some of the internationals I have done,” Owens, who has refereed 26 tests, said.

“I love the Heineken Cup, people are so passionate about their region. I would say that 99 per cent of people at these games are very passionate rugby supporters and it makes for a brilliant atmosphere,” he said.

“That isn’t always the case with internationals as you have a different type of fan. There are more hospitality seats and perhaps some people who wont watch any other rugby than Six Nations in a year.”

“The Munster-Leinster semi-final at Croke Park in 2009 is one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in. I was aware it was more than a rugby game, it was an event, but it wasn’t until I watched the game back to review it that I thought ‘that was a special game, that was a privilege to be part of’,” he said.

“The first-ever rugby game at Soccer City, South Africa-New Zealand that was a hell of an atmosphere too.”

And whilst the lack of Welsh participation in the business stage of the competition means the door is open for Owens to join Chris White as the only men to have taken charge of three finals, he knows what he would prefer.

“I would happily not do the final and see a Welsh side win it,” he said. “I don’t know what is going wrong for the regions, we definitely have the players. Have they got it right on or off the field? I don’t know, but it’s very sad.”

“ I do think that everyone should be getting behind the regions though. It is great that we still have passionate rivalries like Cardiff-Ponty, and we should never lose that because that is what makes rugby special in this country but I do think some people need to grow up a bit and get behind the regions in the Magners and Heineken,” he said.

“We are only a small country and we need to pull together.”

 

Lloyd Williams on returning to the blues after injury

4 Mar

Lloyd Williams battles back from dislocated shoulder

In his first ever interview, Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams, talks battling back from injury and career goals exclusively with TheXV.

Welsh under-20 star Lloyd Williams will return just in time to boost the Cardiff Blues Magners League title push.
 
Williams was expected to miss the rest of the season when he suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Blues LV Cup tie with Exeter in Cardiff back in November.
 
But surgeons have been so pleased with his progress he has returned to full-training in just three months rather than the anticipated five, and will be fit for selection when two-time European champions Munster head to the Cardiff City Stadium three weeks today.
 
And after a frustrating time on the sidelines and on the hand bike, Lloyd can’t wait to get back on the pitch.
 
“I am just so fed up of being in the gym now to be honest I can’t wait to get back into contact training and get playing again,” he said.
 
“ I was frustrated to get injured in the first place, but when Richie Rees got banned I was even more irritated because I could of got a good run of games to prove myself. Now it feels a little bit like back to square one.”
 
 Williams returns at a crucial time as the Blues try to resurrect what by their own admission has been a disappointing season.
 
“We set ourselves the target of winning a big title this season so now  all our eggs are in the Magners’ League basket which makes today’s game against Edinburgh massive.”
 
“ I wasn’t registered for Europe last season so I haven’t been involved in a big knockout game for Blues before. Getting to the Magners playoffs is important, they’re the games you really want to be involved in,” he said.

And as Welsh -based stars like Regan King, Lee Byrne and James Hook head for the Magners exit door Lloyd sees the competition as the perfect place to achieve his ambitions.

“The guys leaving, they’re world-class players and they deserve the chance to earn the money.

“I’m not thinking about anything like that though. I love Cardiff, I’m from the area and I have played here since I was 17. I signed on for another two years and if I’m playing well enough for them to extend that I would look too.

“Guys like Jamie Roberts, Gethin Jenkins, Richie Rees they’re the face of the Cardiff Blues and players I admire. For me 15 players who really want to play for Cardiff Blues are going to do better than 15 guys who are there for the money. Look at Stade Francais, it doesn’t always work.”

An unnerlingly humble and respectful man Williams is still ambitious.

“My first aim is to try and nail down the Blues number nine jersey. Obviously long term to play for Wales like my dad (British Lion scrum half Brynmor) would be a dream.

“Maybe after the World Cup they will be looking to experiment and if I have a run of good games who knows.

“Right now I’m just trying to learn as much as I can off Richie and keep improving and enjoying my rugby.

In an era where it’s become a sporting cliche to describe someone as level headed it is refreshing when you meeta palyer who actually is. Well spoken, with a solid philosphy on the game and an abundance of talent, Lloyd Williams has  a huge future in the game.

Podcast: Six Nations Preview

2 Feb

The XV preview the 2011 Six Nations on Radio Cardiff.

To listen, just click here.

Developing Welsh rugby’s next generation: Gruff Rees

9 Jan


As Ospreys skills coach and the newly-appointed head coach of the Wales Under 18 side, Gruff Rees is just the man to give an encouraging, if cautionary, assessment of Welsh rugby.

Sporting an Ospreys hat and hoodie together with a pair of WRU tracksuit bottoms, Rees looks the part, and he talks it too, as he shares with The XV his thoughts about future Welsh prospects, the regional game and the Premiership.

We meet for a coffee straight after a day’s work with the Ospreys, although there is little need for caffeine to enliven Rees (above, centre, with Wales Under 18s team manager Gethin Watts and assistant Dale McIntosh), who is relishing his new role with the Wales Under 18s.

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Cardiff fans call on WRU to do more for grassroots rugby

17 Dec

The deep freeze has taken a vice-tight hold on the UK this winter, and grassroots rugby in Cardiff is one area where the cold has hit particularly hard.

Some schools have been unable to play any rugby for five-week periods due to frozen pitches, and the inactivity has brought some uncomfortable truths to the surface.

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