Love Spoons Are In The Air . . . Wales Have Arrived in France For The Rugby World Cup

The good people of Versailles have heard Calon Lan, they’ve seen the giant love spoon carried by the youngest member of the squad, and they have delighted in the polished schoolboy French of Dan Biggar.

So, now they know – Wales are in town.

All that remains now is for Wales to take on Fiji in their opening Pool C match on Sunday.

Underpinned by a World Cup record with Wales having two semi-final appearances and one quarter-final, head coach Warren Gatland knows the ropes and he is unquestionably relishing the task that lies ahead.

“I think if I look back on the Six Nations and all the things that were going on, I probably needed to let things unfold a bit and not be as direct or demanding as I might have normally been,” he said.

“The fact that things have settled down and a lot of new players have come in, the way that we’ve been so much more accountable for how we do things and demanding standards, that has been brilliant.

“As a group, we are in a good place. I promise you now, we will surprise some people.

“It is one step at a time. It’s about getting out of your pool first, and then see where you are. You don’t look too far ahead.

“I think every team is focusing on that – get out of your pool and take it one step at a time.”

Wales will prepare against a backdrop of sadness following the death of Welsh rugby legend David Watkins over the weekend.

Blaina-born Watkins, known affectionately as “Dai”, played rugby union for Newport and was part of the team which famously beat the touring All Blacks in 1963.

He was the only player to captain the British and Irish Lions in rugby union and also Great Britain in rugby league.

He won 21 caps for Wales and captained the British Lions before making a shock switch to rugby league with Salford in 1967 having resisted interest from St Helens as an 18-year-old.

Watkins played a key role in Salford’s golden era, making more than 400 appearances and scoring almost 3,000 points as they were crowned champions twice in three seasons during the 1970s.

He kicked a world record 221 goals during the 1972-73 season and his feat of scoring in 92 consecutive matches for the club remains unbeaten.

His club form once again earned him recognition at international level with both Wales and Great Britain, who he represented on the Lions tour to Australia in 1974.

Meanwhile, Welsh club rugby returned at the weekend when the Indigo Premiership kicked off across the country.

Champions Llandovery showed they will be a force again this year with a 54-31 hammering of Carmarthen Quins away from home.

Cardiff drew 19-19 at Pontypridd, Bridgend won a thriller at Swansea, 28-27, and there were victories for Aberavon over Neath (27-14), Merthyr over Ebbw Vale (24-17) and Newport over Pontypool (38-27), where there was a minute’s silence in tribute to their former player and club president, Watkins.