Airport humiliation hurt Wales
June 11, 2008
Mark Jones has revealed Wales will draw on their emotionally "savage'' transfer to Johannesburg as motivation when they renew hostilities with South Africa.
Less than 24 hours after succumbing 43-17 to the Springboks at Vodacom Park, the Welsh found themselves face to face with their conquerors once again.
This time the claustrophobic surroundings of Bloemfontein airport on a Sunday morning provided the arena as the two teams prepared to share a charter flight.
It was a humiliating experience for Wales, who found it difficult to look the Springboks in the eye as they shuffled around the tiny terminal building and on to the plane.
The ordeal left the tourists seething with indignation and Jones insists their anger will be put to good use at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
"It was savage being on the same flight. If I could have played in the airport on Sunday I think I would have done,'' said the Scarlets winger.
"It was difficult to say the least. There was only one team who had the bragging rights and rightly so.
"From our point of view we have got to remember what it felt like at the airport and use that as motivation for Saturday.
"If we can remember how that feels, the next time we pull the Wales shirt we have to make sure it never happens again.
"What comes in adversity makes you stronger and I'm looking forward to the squad putting it right this week.''
On the face of it allowing Wales to catch the same flight as the Springboks was a logistical blunder that will have infuriated the players.
But it may also prove to be a motivational masterstroke as the team's obvious embarrassment gives them another reason - if one was needed - to seek redemption in the series finale.
As Grand Slam champions Wales were a bitter disappointment, fuelling the opinion widely held in South Africa that Six Nations teams are a soft touch on tour.
The side for Saturday's second Test is named tomorrow and Jones, who has won 40 caps, has detected a resolve within the squad to atone for the Bloemfontein debacle.
"There is a determination in the squad to do ourselves justice. You are at a cross-roads when you experience a defeat like that,'' he said.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm desperate to be involved and make amends for last week.
"'It's the last game of the season for us and we want to go out on a high.''
The jubilation that greeted Wales' Grand Slam in March is a distant memory now as Warren Gatland's side face a major test of character against the confident Springboks.
"After the first Test the changing room was pretty sombre,'' said Jones.
"The guys are still hurting and gutted, not just for ourselves but for the supporters who have saved up to come out and watch us, and people back home as well.
"Nobody is hurting more than us. We really wanted to put in a good show last weekend and we felt we could get something out of the game.
"The good thing is we have got another opportunity this Saturday.
"It would be a good statement to make, a good challenge to come back from this.
"We wanted to see, prior to last weekend, if this team is capable of getting a win after four or five wins.
"We are going to find out whether this team is capable of performing after a loss.''
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor