Twickers The Thames And The Boys Of Summer

It’s quite a shock to the system to find international rugby taking place on these shores less than a week after the first ashes test has been completed, but in Rugby World Cup year the already suffocating demands on the modern rugby player become positively breathless.

On a warm summer Sunday afternoon as the smoke from pub barbecues drifted almost seamlessly along the length of the Thames, England and Wales faced each other at Twickenham in the first of the many World Cup warm up matches that will fill the August weekends.
There have been two previous encounters between these two sides at HQ this time of year, and even just the thought of those matches sends a collective shiver down the national Welsh spine.

On August 4 2007, a crowd of 66,132 watched an experimental England side demolish Wales 62-5 an humiliation only surpassed some weeks later by a defeat to Fiji that knocked them out of the Rugby World Cup in France, a loss that ushered in the reign of current coach Warren Gatland

In 2011 Wales also lost albeit narrowly 23-19, but the match will be remembered for the horrific broken leg suffered by Morgan Stoddard, that to all intents and purposes ended his career.

So the men in red were hoping for something a little more uplifting yesterday, they started the day as the number one side in the world, following the All Blacks defeat to Australia, Alun Wyn Jones was celebrating his 126th cap, all appeared well in Wales world.

By 4pm with the barbeques still in full swing, Wales had dropped to second in the World rankings and suffered yet another Twickenham pre RWC defeat by 33 points to 19.

A crowd of 80,944 saw England get off to a flying start, whilst a lethargic tired looking Wales struggled to get into the game, the home side led 21-7 at the break, with Wales looking as rusty as a second hand Fiat.

An improved second half by Wales brought them within one score of England with the score at 24-19 after 51 minutes, before the home side pulled away during the final quarter.

The cliché that Wales are notorious slow starters is close to becoming a cold hard fact, and with a six day turnaround before the face England again, in Cardiff, there is not much time available, but they will surely perform better after this excursion.

As the setting sun shimmered on the Thames, Wales fans joined locals at the Dog and Duck, the final barbecued sausages were just about to be lifted off the grill, sadly there was no bread of heaven to wrap them in, and whilst their team took a bit of roasting, there is still hope that the fare on offer on the banks of the River Taff next Saturday will feed them till they want no more.





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