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The Day Wales Shocked The Sevens World

The Day Wales Shocked The Sevens World
Wales players and officials celebrate winning the 2009 Rugby Wolrd Cup Sevens in Dubai. Photo: Wales Rugby
July 19
12:41 2018

Who will  cover the World Cup Sevens for the FIJI SUN

2009 World Cup winners want a repeat in San Francisco

The 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens provided the biggest shock when it was won by Wales.

Ranked 80-1 outsiders to win the tournament in Dubai, and featuring a squad that had two one-cap wonders and a third player with a mere three caps, Lee Beach’s team completed what to many was ‘Mission Impossible’ by winning the Melrose Cup.

This weekend in San Francisco they will try to repeat that feat as they are drawn in their opening qualifying match against Kenya.

Today, the Wales winning coach Paul John is now coaching Hong Kong 7s team.

He took over from Gareth Baber who is now the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach. John had two spells as interim coach at Cardiff Blues before taking over from Gareth Baber in Hong Kong.

The memories from 2009 are still very vivid in the minds of all the players and player Aled Thomas, in particular, is able to recall every move, tackle and kick throughout the tournament. It remains the highlight of his career.

“I loved playing on the World Series circuit and there was a tremendous feeling between all the players in the squad. We had a great blend within our group and kit was an unforgettable few days in Dubai,” said Thomas.

“Nobody gave us any chance going into the tournament, but we’d had some good results going into the World Cup, including beating the All Blacks. We had a good opening against Zimbabwe, beat Uruguay and then lost a tight game to Argentina.

“That gave us the quarter-final that everyone wanted in the competition wanted to avoid, New Zealand! We couldn’t have got off to a worse start in that game, conceding an early try, but then a couple of pieces of magic from Lee Williams saw us through 15-14 – it was incredible.

“We’d beaten the Al Blacks twice in the space of three weeks and reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. Samoa were next and we went 12-0 up early doors. They came back, but a third try from Tom Isaacs saw us through 19-12 and into a re-match with Argentina. It was all a bit of a fairytale.

“We’d learned a few things from our first game with Argentina and our defence stayed strong. We took the lead, they clawed it back to 12-12 and then I was able to find a hole in their defence to score what proved to be the match winning try and conversion.

“What happened after that, and for the rest of the night, was a bit of a blur. It was just mad . . . but wonderful! It is a fantastic thing to be able to say you’ve been part of a team that won a World Cup. All the players still stay in touch and we’re hoping to have a proper 10th anniversary celebration next year.

“It was a remarkable achievement that has become more and more unlikely ever to be repeated because of the increased competitiveness of the world sevens scene.”

Edited by Grace Narayan

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

 

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