JONATHAN DAVIES: Players should take responsibility
5:30pm Tuesday 2nd October 2007 in Sport
Wales' exit from the World Cup and the departure of coach Gareth Jenkins leaves me thinking about two words - drastic change.
It has been another hugely testing weekend for the game in Wales and there is an awful lot for everyone to take in.
Firstly, the players have got take some responsibility, and to be fair to them, they have said that during the past couple of days.
For me, the players have got to take responsibility in that they didn't play well and they didn't play the right game.
Again, they played behind the gain-line, they didn't catch and drive the lineout and they didn't work the scrums as much they should and tire the Fijians out.
They were just tactically all wrong. They should have won that game by 20 or 30 points, I have no doubt about that.
It was one of the greatest games in World Cup history, unless you are Welsh, of course. It was a fantastic game, but Fiji just played the way they wanted to play and we got caught up in it.
The game-plan was totally wrong, and as the players have said in their various newspaper columns, they have got to take some responsibility for that.
Defensively, Wales should have been more aggressive. It was one of those performances that unfortunately you don't get away with now.
Gareth, I believe, was sacked before he landed back in Wales on Sunday. I think that was totally wrong. He left as Wales coach, and he should have returned as Wales coach.
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis said in his statement yesterday that the national coach should have four years, but they had the opportunity to give him four years, so I don't understand that statement.
Gareth made his mistakes, and I feel sorry for him. No-one has been more passionate than Gareth for Wales, but I don't think the players greatly helped him.
Wales have got to look at a high performance director, that has got to be sorted out, and whoever comes in faces a massive job sorting out the whole structure.
I would also definitely have a professional board consisting of the WRU chairman, elite director and two representatives from each of the four professional regions - the coach and the chief executive - and then I would have the chief executive of the WRU as well, and they would run the professional game.
Elsewhere, I would have a a director of performance for the semi-professional game - the Welsh Premiership - and a community director to run the district and amateur games.
Player-wise, there seems to be no-one coming through. Yes, they are all big and strong, but they have got no game awareness.
There has got to be drastic change, and now is the time to do it. I would like to see someone like Kevin Bowring there as elite director.
Coaching-wise, I don't think it will be a Welshman for the national job because I don't think any of the current regional coaches would want it.
They know what the situation is in Wales and the best players at the moment are in the Welsh squad. It is the structure which needs looking at.
The raw talent is there, I have no doubt about that, but I think people are getting carried away with the physicality and conditioning and fitness.
You have to have that, of course, but in terms of the game awareness and reading of the game, the southern hemisphere teams are streets ahead of Wales in the kicking game, committing to rucks and mauls, and that is all down to game awareness.
Conditioning-wise, they are all pretty much at the same level, but game awareness, unfortunately, is where Wales have failed on this occasion.
Players are turning up to the regions, and okay, they are big and strong, but they can't kick a ball properly and they don't know when or when not to give a pass, or go into a ruck or stay out of a ruck.
These are the things the coaches should be doing in player development, but it is not happening.
The mood is bleak and I do feel very sorry for Gareth Jenkins. Whether they appointed him on public demand or not I don't know, but once they put him in they should have supported him.
There is no-one more passionate or no-one more Welsh than Gareth Jenkins, and I do feel really sad how the whole situation has panned out for him.
The union has really got to look at itself and make their decisions, I think there maybe a bit of a soft culture in the regions, a bit of complacency, because who challenges these people? No-one, really.
For some reason, the coaching isn't quite up to standard to bring these players through, so the union needs to have a good look at itself and go from there.
Game awareness, to me is huge. Look, the most under-prepared side in world rugby is Argentina. Their players play all over the world, but look at them and how well they are doing in this World Cup.
Argentina's game plan is simple, they play to their strengths and expose weaknesses in the opposition.