Wales have a shot at history

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That's the view of British journalist Stephen Jones who, in his Rugby World column, sees little prospect of Wales turning things around for their October 30 Test in Cardiff.


"Surely, long odds will be offered against Wales," he said.


"At the moment they are very much in transition, the number of world-class players in their team has diminished recently. New Zealand, in general, have been playing splendidly in their matches Down Under."


Wales had achieved outstanding results in short phases over the years, and they had been as competitive during Warren Gatland's reign as coach as they had been since the 0-6 loss in 1963 – the first time the All Blacks had won a Test in Cardiff.


"But even then, the blunt truth is that they were never competitive enough," he said, and it was over to Wayne Pivac and his side to deal with 'the crushing weight of history very much dressed in black.'


Reflecting on the history of contests between the sides since their first outing in 1905, a controversial 3-0 win to Wales, who lead the scoreboard for wins achieved until that 1963 loss when the All Blacks drew level, Jones asked what would Welsh fans have thought as they left Cardiff Arms Park in 1963 if they had known another win over the All Blacks would not have been achieved by 2021?

"Frankly, in all those years Wales have rarely even come close. It's a gigantic blot on the Welsh sporting landscape that cannot be erased," he said.


"There are many explanations but chief among them is the fact that New Zealand, as a rugby nation and in the form of the All Blacks, have been considerably better on the field, year in, year out. Full stop. Better, fitter, more confident, more scoring potential."

While questioning the passion for rugby in both countries, Jones wondered if there was more support in Wales now for the football team than for their rugby side.


"If Wales is as big a rugby nation as it once was, it is hiding it well," he said.


He also wondered whether the increased frequency of games between the two had lessened their appeal.


"Throughout history they were like beings from another planet, such was their aura and their newness…There are still some remaining shreds of the old aura about the matches between the Black and the Red, but they have also become two-a-penny," he said.


In the 31 matches lost in succession, Jones said it was difficult to recall Wales even being on the point of victory.


"It is also remarkable how often Wales have competed reasonably well in the first half of games, only to be swept aside as New Zealand accelerated through the third and fourth quarters," he said.


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