By Giuseppe Sollazzo
Wales v Canada at the 2007 Rugby World Cup was one of the first Wales games I watched – and I’ll never forget what a thrilling experience it was.
I can safely say I became a big Welsh fan after finding myself strongly and emotionally supporting them during that game.
Canada opened the first half in great shape, failing to exploit a gap in the defence after only two minutes. They subsequently missed a drop goal attempt and a penalty in the following five minutes.
Thanks to three penalty goals, Wales were up 9-0 after 15 minutes, although what happened in the following 25 minutes was to bring deep shock to our side: Canada managed to score two tries in 10 minutes, the second of which was a fantastic run by Culpran along the full length of the field after intercepting a pass and breaking through the defence.
The first half closed with an unexpected 12-9 for Canada, who stunned Wales five minutes into the second half with their third try.
Down 17-9, the score looked grim unless a quick response was promptly enacted. Wales’ reaction took some time, thanks to Thomas and Stephen Jones, whose tries helped to regain the lead. A great game by scrum-half Williams made Wales firmly focused on the game again, just as the Canadian players were starting to succumb to tiredness. Great defence work prevented Canada from scoring any further points for the remainder of the match and secured a much deserved win for Wales.
Wales showed great territorial control as shown in Figure 2, being able to score tries all over the try line, with Canada only able to exploit gaps on the wings.
More importantly, most of Wales’ tries were scored on assists rather than solitary action, as was the case with Canada’s (Figure 1), to highlight great team work and depth on the pitch during attacks.
An analysis of clean breaks (Figure 3) and defenders beaten (Figure 4) shows an impressive ability of Wales to create gaps not just on the wings, but centrally and along the full length of the field, suggesting good work by the forwards.
As for overall territorial control, having a look at all rucks won by Wales in comparison to those won by Canada, we can clearly see a pattern in figure 5. This suggests more rucking on the wings for Canada and more spread over the field for Wales, stressing a better ability to attack incisively.
As I said at the beginning, this was a great game. Being the opening game of a World Cup, the feelings and emotions were astonishing. Combined with great pressure on the team, this created the conditions for a Welsh comeback after an unconvincing start, giving them a much needed first game win.
What did Wales do in the following games and what kind of lessons can they learn for this 2011 campaign? Giuseppe will explore further as the Rugby World Cup 2011 progresses.
- Giuseppe Sollazzo is an Italian Senior Systems Analyst at St George’s University of London, with two big passions: mobiles and rugby. LiveRugby is his first mobile app, which he developed trying to merge his two passions. LiveRugby allows rugby fans to become analysts, in real-time, during the games. Users can follow the games live, comment, and generate automatically graphical statistics that can be shared on the social networks. Find more info at http://www.liverugbyapp.com You can follow Giuseppe on twitter as @puntofisso or read his blog at http://www.puntofisso.net