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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shane Williams discusses life in Japan and that British & Irish Lions call up

Welsh legend Shane Williams spoke to Total Rugby recently about how he's enjoying life in Japan, touching on language challenges, the level of play and the Rugby World Cup. He also spoke about the unbelievable phonecall he received that prompted his 2013 British and Irish Lions call up.

Thanks to the IRB and Total Rugby. We'll be populating our Player Features section more in future, so if you enjoy these kind of clips please let us know in the comments and kindly share it with your friends and social followers

Posted at 4:28 pm | 18 comments

Posted in Player Features

Viewing 18 comments

WelshOsprey July 22, 2014 8:52 pm

Hope he comes back to wales as a coach or something soon

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10stonenumber10 July 22, 2014 9:20 pm

Japan are always my 'other' team. Absolutely torn to pieces by the All Blacks in 2011, but they still scored a 7 pointer against arguably the best team in the world.

In the japanese league, the play style from what i've seen is very very quick and disciplined... to give a vague example, when facing a clearing kick, it seems they defend the kick rather than attack the kicker. You could exploit this space as an attacker, but if it went wrong you would have your contract put up for question haha! The contact situation is fast, no rule bending is tolerated, 10 minutes in the bin is pure SHAME, and aside from a few foreign imports, there aren't many Savea, Vunipola or Etzebeth size lumps out there.

Good on ya Shane. Must be nice to finally play the game with normal sized people. I seem to remember a scrum half at a billed weight of 58kg. The expression on his face in the Brumbies shows it all... "This game is rough."

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Canadian content July 23, 2014 1:45 am

I love Shane, but his call up epitomizes how much this tour was about the welsh past, present and future. Undeserved, like warburtons captaincy, like jones in the final game, like BODS dropping (i guess I gotta admit cuthbert got dropped too).

Yes gatland I do believe there should be quotas. Why? Because a head coach can use the lions tour as a way to show his core players how they can win against the big SH teams.

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WelshOsprey July 23, 2014 1:12 pm

Williams only got called up because he was in or near australia, just like Barritt, Wade and Twelvetrees. Everything seemed to work out fine because the Lions won anyway.

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DrG July 23, 2014 6:08 pm

There were plenty Lions fans who probably had tickets to that particular Lions game so were going to be there anyway, one of which was no doubt a winger and probably fairly fit... I understand 'proximity' was their excuse, I just feel it was a poor one..

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10stonenumber10 July 23, 2014 6:13 pm

I would say "Right place, Right time", but rugby is far too calculated for that. "Shane, we're touring Oz, grab a holiday within a 12hr flight"

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Canadian content July 24, 2014 3:10 am

Didn't win that game.

All 3 players u mentioned we're playing for their national teams.

Fans tend to forget beagles near miss at the end of game 1

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Runningrugby32 July 24, 2014 9:37 am

You're right, but then again Leigh Halfpenny missed a kick right at the end of the 2nd test to give Australia a 16-15 victory - swings and roundabouts. Two tightly fought tests followed by an emphatic win in the 3rd test - what more can you ask for?

I can't understand the fact that people are still complaining about that series. What did Gatland have to do? Cruise to victory in all 3 tests? Never gonna happen. Keep selecting a legendary center who wasn't playing particularly well and leave an up and coming star on the bench? Not his style, he has always prided himself on picking on form. Jon Davies played a blinder, the Lions brand was in desperate need of a series win (it had been 16 years since the last one), and he delivered that.

I understand the reasoning behind a quota, but I think it would damage the Lions more than help them. Its about unity, but also a huge part of the thrill of an invitational side like that is the elitism. People get the jersey because a team of coaches feel they are the best at what they do in the British Isles, not as a matter of course to fill some quota. Scenarios where say a welsh player ended up going instead of a more talented English player, or visa versa, because of quota needs, would undermine the concept and kill the thrill.

And picking a fan to play for the lions? Come off it.

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Reality July 24, 2014 1:14 pm

Sorry, but the point about Davies is simply not true. He absolutely was not playing good rugby, as evidenced by the fact that the deciding try in the 2nd test was his fault and he hadn't impressed at all in the actual test matches. Then, why would a Lions coach pick up-and-coming stars? The tour was going to be over a week after, so what difference would it have made if he picked an established player or an up-and-coming one? The only team Davies was an up-and-coming star for was Wales, so if he was picked for that reason then it was because Gatland saw potential to develop his Welsh player.

Then, yeah, the Lions won the third test after Gatland actually started to use some of the key players he had excluded until that point like O'Brien, Murray and a decent loosehead who could actually scrummage, but they shouldn't have been in a winner-takes-all situation in that test - they should have been going for a third test win. Australia were absolutely useless and should have been destroyed in all three tests.

In any case, the quota idea would just be foolish. It'd cause ill-will more than anything and would seriously undermine the team's chances of winning, because they'd be playing with dead-weight who are playing solely based on their nationality. The team should be picked on merit, because naturally there will always be a good mix when done like that (except lately for Scotland). Quotas should only be imposed when there's a risk of someone deserving NOT being picked based on nationality (or gender, or race, etc.). Just because Gatland turned out to pick loads of undeserving Welsh players doesn't mean that all coaches are going to be that biased, so it'd just be opening a can of worms that shouldn't be opened.

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10stonenumber10 July 24, 2014 3:04 pm

We could of course be over analysing the situation.

Gatland knew Davies. He has only ever had to coach AGAINST O'Driscoll, and of course this would only highlight his flaws in the selector's head having only really seen one side of the coin, so to speak.

There is a lot to be said for coaches "Sticking with what they know" when the sh..orts hit the fan. Faced with a selection issue, he picked the bigger, heavier, more direct and simpler player for the role, and more of an unknown to the Aussies. They have faced BOD many many times, and if he was having an off day, they would know how to nullify his threat. A relative unknown to the SH teams would pose a greater threat. Arguably as well, Aus would have prepared to play against BOD rather than an absolute powerhouse.

As i said before, 2 sides to every coin. Maybe I am not giving enough, or perhaps giving TOO much credit to his Gat-ball game plan selection. To be fair to Davies, he almost filled his shoes, had they lost, he would have been the media scapegoat for generations

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Reality July 25, 2014 7:31 am

10stonenumber10, you make some valid points about Davies being picked over O'Driscoll, and if that selection decision was an isolated incident then maybe I could accept it as being 'tactical', but when he picks a Welsh captain and everyone around the world says, "Why him?", when he continues to pick an underperforming Welsh scrumhalf over the others, when he picks a Welsh centre who hadn't played in six months, when he picks his old retired Welsh mate Shane Williams for one last farewell match because he happened to be on holidays nearby, it stops being an isolated incident and starts looking very much like a trend.

As well as that, I think we've all come to realise that 'pick loads of big guys and bash it up the middle' is as far as tactics go for Gatland.

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10stonenumber10 July 25, 2014 9:43 pm

Gatland had no respect for the other nations within the Lions group. He saw it as Wales + a few ringers. He doesn't strike me as a particularly likeable character. One of those "Been there, done that, until you achieve what I did, you're not worthy of cleaning my shoes" kind of coaches.

I feel he was jealous of BOD. He gave him his debut, a full cap he never achieved himself, and BOD played more games for Ireland and Lions than Gats ever did for Waikato... 180 games for Leinster on top of that too.

Maybe I'm reading far too much into it. Either way, it happened, the Lions still won, and Ireland kept Wales try-less in the 2014 6N.

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DrG July 24, 2014 3:07 pm

Yikes, at the risk of opening up old wounds again regarding the Lions tour, I must indeed; as usual, add my £0.02...

The problem is what Gatland did was not directly swap Davies for BOD (although I am aware Davies was wearing the 13 shirt), the thing that grates me, is that he brought in a player who had not played for a heck of a long time (Roberts) and then pushed Davies out 1 position.

"he has always prided himself on picking on form" He picked Roberts, what could he have possibly based Roberts form on? A few training sessions?

Gatland got the win and in the history books credit will be given to him, but I don't think that the series should have been as close as it was and the Lions could have beaten what was a very understrength Australian team in all 3 games!

Oh and as for the "picking a fan to play for the Lions" of course I wasn't suggesting that should have been the done thing, but frankly they could have picked an entire bunch of randoms to play that Lions game and it wouldn't have looked as stupid as picking a retired winger because "he wasn't very far away!"...

I think a quota is a bit pointless, it probably ruins the ethos of the team, it's an honourable thing to be selected for the Lions, but could you imagine being selected because they need a token Scotsman/Irishman/Welshman/Englishman etc.. What's next? "Make sure you select at least 1 gay person, muslim, christian, black, white, chinese, sikh etc etc"...

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Reality July 24, 2014 8:00 pm

DrG, tell that last point to the South African rugby administrators.

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Runningrugby32 July 24, 2014 10:54 pm

I definitely agree with some of what your saying, O'brien certainly was a revelation in the third test, and Murray showed the leaden footed Mike Phillips how its done.
But its just unrealistic to expect a team that has been together for such a short period to 'destroy' a top ranking test side in each of 3 tests. So much of the modern game is about structures, and they take time to bed in - its why the Barbarians find wins against top sides much harder to come by these days. Nor do I think its quite fair to call the Welsh players who got picked undeserving - these were key figures in a side that had won the last two previous six nations tournaments. It made perfect sense to pick largely from what was the highest performing British Isles test side at the time.

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DrG July 25, 2014 1:24 am

I see your point regarding 6N results and the team, however the point of the Lions tour; from what I gather, is to not pick 'the team that won the last few matches' - It is, in effect, a case of selecting the BEST players from (in no particular order) England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales - THAT, in my opinion (and yes, opinions are like a-holes) was not carried out.

Australia are a top ranking side, but the Australia that was fielded was missing quite a few key players - again, my opinion...

So YES, 'Gatland won the Lions tour', but I personally feel a bit cheated by the way he did it, especially when you consider the likes of the previous tour to SA which was headed by Ian McGeechan who; with the greatest respect, somewhat shafted the Scots (bearing in mind he was a Scottish International!). The team he picked was a good representation of the best players of the British Isles and perhaps as Scotland were (and have been) misfiring, there were very few selected.

I might be a bit old fashioned here and don't get me wrong, wins are important, especially to players, but to me the Lions > a win... It's nice to have them win a series, but frankly for me it's like the Baabaas, you know that from the beginning the odds are stacked against them. They're a collection of great players from a group of nations, but it's a pleasure to see them all banded together and competing against a common 'enemy' as such.

Maybe Gatland truly did pick the British Isles greatest players at the time, but judging by the fact Warburton was captain and not firing well, Roberts was injured for the entire tour bar the last game(?) and Shane Williams was drafted in as an emergency, I'd say he'd taken his Welsh specs on tour and left he Lions ones at home...

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Canadian content July 27, 2014 5:30 pm

Davies looked crap in the tests and his contribution to the first two tests was a left footed kick and an offload at what, 20 points up? To be honest, I thought he just did not look up to it in the first two games. I know he was playing WAY out of position at 12, but he did nothing. I thought surely he'd be on the bench and Roberts would be at 12.

Look, I understand quotas may demean the achievement, but they don't any more than a bias coach picking his own players, a la clive in nz, and gats in oz.

How about this? How about a non-national team head coach, like geech? No pressure to pick his own players?

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DrG July 28, 2014 9:26 am

I still think quotas would be a bad idea, but a non national team coach would be better.

I was thinking about a flipside with say a 'Pacific Islands Lions' where you could have players picked from Samo, NZ, Tona, Fiji (might have missed someone else here?). The majority of the time, it wouldn't matter where the coach was from, NZ players would be snapped up with a few other gems from the other nation to fill in some spaces. Now whilst I don't like that idea, I think it's a fair outcome when you're picking the BEST players for a Star team.

I personally don't feel that is what happened for the B&L Lions in 2013. I don't feel that anyone else in Gats position, would have looked at England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and said "The majority of best players out of these nations are Welsh" - in fact a fair few of Gats selections were quite worrying - Matt Stevens??? REALLY?

I think also it was not just the fact he picked these players in the first place, I can see past some of that bias I suppose, but the fact he continued to play them with their poor performances, then brought in a player that hadn't played rugby in 6 months (someone said?)

It is indeed old news I suppose, the only thing I'm actually very shocked by still, is the fact he didn't pick someone like Rhys Priestland aswell...

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