As you may have gathered from the absence of blogs life has been hectic. Deploying multiple iTouch story capture devises in two languages, with associated project management, software development and multiple stake-holders has been (and will continue to be) exhausting. However I took today off to attend the small matter of the EDF final between the Cardiff Blues (the good guys) and Gloucester (clothed in Cherry and White and ripe as it turned out for picking) at Twickenham. Two prior encounters this year in the Heineken Cup resulted in victories for the Blues, on the second occasion we only had 14 men for two thirds of the match. Last week we beat Toulouse (three times European Champions) in the quarter final of the Heineken Cup in an exhausting match while Gloucester had the week off. So although we had the favourites tag I was worried that it might be a game to far. I need not have worried, two early tries and no sign of any threat from Gloucester. By the end of the match we had 50 points to 12, had scored seven tries to two and were totally dominant. A good match report here and some good pictures here and the best try here.
Martyn Williams (pictured) one of the World’s all time great number 7s, was man of the match and justifiably so. He made one two tries with intelligent passes and overall was first to every loose ball, constantly frustrating Gloucester. However the key achievement here was for the team and the coach Dai Young. In the Semi-finals, the star studded Ospreys (no love lost here) failed against Gloucester despite individual acts of brilliance; last week in the Heineken Cup they simply failed to to play as a team and were routed by Munster. Cardiff may not have as many stars but they are a team, with a coach who has been backed over the last few years by management. The net result, after several barren years is a rugby team starting to approach the formidable levels of performance that once justified it being called the best club team in Europe. Along with Newport it is one of only two European club sites to have beaten tourists from the major southern powers of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
You could see the team performance last week, where the victory was by three points. The team supported each other, the defence was awesome against what was in effect the French back line. They not only played for themselves, they played for the team with the spectators; they ground out a victory because they wanted it more. Today, the victory was not ground out, it was triumphant with some sublime passing and ball retention of the highest order. In two weeks time we move on to a tougher proposition in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup (the European championship for those not in the know. The Leicester Tigers will not allow us to run through them in the way that Gloucester and are currently top of the English League with a game in hand. However its in the Millennium Stadium, so home advantage and I have my tickets.