Whilst much of the talk on The Rugby Blog has focused on the plight of England, it’s time to offer our congratulations to Wales, our nearest and dearest neighbours.
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The Welsh have given everyone in the Northern Hemisphere a glimmer of hope that the dominance of the big teams from the south is perhaps not as complete as previously thought.
The 21-18 victory over Australia at the weekend was probably their greatest achievement this year, eclipsing the extraordinary Grand Slam win because of the nature of the opposition they overcame. Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards are clearly doing an incredible job, and on current form, the starting Lions XV will be predominantly Welsh.
What is particularly encouraging is that Wales are still improving, they appear to have the right structures and personnel in place to assist with their development, and they represent the north’s greatest threat to the mighty Tri-Nations. Where England are failing in so many places, Wales are doing a fine job.
Rivalries will of course persist through the Six Nations 2009, but I for one am glad there will be some Welshmen on ‘our’ team when Ian McGeechan’s squad travel to South Africa next summer.