Williams determined to bounce back
May 5, 2009
The Blues' Martyn Williams reflects on his crucial penalty miss at the Millennium Stadium © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues' Martyn Williams is refusing to feel sorry for himself after his penalty shoot-out miss handed Leicester the chance to win their epic Heineken Cup semi-final clash.
Williams' failure to hit the target was followed by Leicester's Jordan Crane slotting his kick in the final act of a dramatic match that saw the sides battle to a 26-26 draw after extra time. The veteran flanker has admitted the miss was devastating but is determined to put the disappointment behind him.
"I am at the age where I've been through the mill through rugby," the 33-year-old told the Western Mail. "It's better that it landed on my shoulders than on a young 21 or 22-year-old starting out in the game. It would probably be much more difficult for them to get over it.
"You wouldn't want it all to fall on Tom James or someone like Leigh Halfpenny. So in some ways it's good that it happened to me - although I didn't feel like that at the time! But somebody had to miss. There's no point feeling sorry for myself. You've just got to dust yourself down and onwards and upwards.
"If I'd missed a tackle that gave away the winning try or dropped the ball over the line, that would hurt a lot more. Things like that are my bread and butter. Goal-kicking isn't and hopefully I never have to do it again. I can't see myself being in that position again - fingers crossed!"
Saturday's shoot-out went into sudden death after the Blues' Tom James had missed with a chance that would have clinched the tie for the Magners League side and Williams admitted that he had not prepared for such a scenario.
"We had a list of the first five to go up and to be honest nobody really thought about what happens after that," said Williams. "Obviously we were going to use all the backs first. But after Tom Shanklin and Richie Rees had taken kicks six and seven, there were no more backs left. It was down to the forwards then and I realised I was probably first up.
"I looked around and knew I was next in line, so I got the short straw. I was shattered after running round for 100 minutes, but I wasn't really nervous or fazed by it. It was just a bad kick. I used to take kicks at school and in youth and I used to practice in training years ago. But I've not done that for years. I wish I had practiced more now!
"It was just surreal," he said. "I can't believe what happened. It's as if you weren't there. You never envisage it coming down to that. It's just bizarre how it turned out that way. It was a bit of a lottery and somebody was going to miss. I've just got to live with the fact that it was me.
"There's never been a penalty shoot-out before in rugby, so I guess I've earned myself a place in the record books. But it's not one that I wanted! You've got to take your hat off to the two Leicester forwards who stepped up, Craig Newby and Jordan Crane. They put in two brilliant kicks."
After Crane had landed his penalty to put the Tigers through, a number of their players made a point of commiserating with the distraught Williams.
"Lewis Moody, Geordan Murphy and Martin Corry all came over to me," said the Blues stalwart. "They said they didn't feel like celebrating that much because of the way the game had ended and they just said to keep my chin up. Fair play to them, they are top men for doing that."
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies