Who will replace Shane?

December 3rd, 2011

I’m just about to watch the Wales v Australia rugby international at which Shane Williams will end a glorious career. The worry is that we might never see another like him.

Earlier this week no less a legend than Barry John praised Williams as a player who would get into the best ever Wales team – high praise indeed when you consider the wonderful wingers that Wales have had over the years – the immortal Gerald Davies with a side-step to die for, and the electric-paced JJ Williams to name only two of the obvious candidates. But John was also concerned that we may have seen the last of the small, fast, balanced wingers who run round people instead of the man-mountains who run through them. A few years ago I voiced the same concerns in a post here Rugby’s problem in the professional era – big strong men.

Somehow rugby has turned into American Football – everyone except the scrum-halfs seems to be built bigger than the lock forwards I remember from my youth. Only in sevens do we still regularly see the value of the smaller men. Remember the wonderful Scottish three-quarters from a couple of decades ago? If Chris Paterson is criticised for being too small for full back what chance would Andy Irvine have? What of that lovely pairing of Jim Renwick and David Johnston. Would even as magnificent a player as Philippe Sella the magnificent French centre get into a modern international team?

If there is no room for player like these to flourish in the game then the glorious entertainment of rugby played with flair and imagination may become a thing of the past and it will descend into a wrestling match with the occasional kick. And that would be a tragedy. lets hope the coaches that watch todays’s match recognise the value and excitement that Shane has brought back into rugby during his career.

Entry Filed under: sport

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