Welsh young guns quit rugby?
March 23, 2012
Welsh tyro Dan Lydiate has reportedly embraced his love of BMX bikes in the wake of his side's Six Nations success © PA Photos
Wales' hopes of building on their glorious 2012 Six Nations and making a bid for the world title have been blown to smithereens after a remarkable series of events which has led to seven of their best players seemingly quitting rugby.
News is emerging from the Welsh camp that stars including Alex Cuthbert, Dan Lydiate, George North and captain Sam Warburton have gone AWOL with all evidence indicating they have no intention of returning to the fold.
The young Welsh team have won almost universal praise in the rugby world for their dedication, work rate and professionalism. The players religiously followed the intensive training regime laid down by Warren Gatland's management team which included workouts in -120C in special cyrotherapy chambers, constant full contact sessions and alcohol bans. The youthful squad, that boasts an average age of just 25, was rewarded for their 'monk like' existence by a world cup semi-final and a Six Nations grand slam in the space of half a year.
However, it seems the harsh regime has broken several of the young players who have followed their win over the French in Cardiff with an orgy of drink, junk food, video games, BMXing and women.
"At present we can only confirm the following," said Peter Jones of the WRU at an emergency press conference in the Vale of Glamorgan. "After the encounter with the French in Cardiff on March 17, 2012, the Welsh team and management retired to a privately booked bar to celebrate the momentous achievement of Wales' eleventh grand slam. For many of the players this was the first time they had consumed alcohol for many months.
Unfortunately the combined effects of drinking alcohol after abstaining for so long in addition to their youth and the exertions of international rugby meant many players suffered dramatic changes in their behaviour. Many of the younger players, after drinking so much, decided to engage in leisure pursuits commonly engaged in by other young men of the principality. But it seems that abstinence makes the heart grow fonder, so to speak. These players are now showing extreme signs of addiction."
Jones then passed the assembled media a sheet outlining the current, or most recently known, actions and whereabouts of the players concerned:
Player: Sam Warburton
Player: Toby Faletau
Player: Leigh Halfpenny
Player: Alex Cuthbert
Player: Dan Lydiate
Player: George North
Player: Justin Tipuric
Jones stated that at least five of the players have stated they wish to be 'left alone' and say they have no wish to go back to 'boring rugby training' ever again. One player in particular is alleged to have said it 'wasn't fair' that his mates went drinking every weekend in Cardiff whilst he had to do 'stupid rugby drills again and again'. Upon being asked when or if he planned to return the young man replied: "Whatever."
The other three players are believed to be so absorbed in their new hobbies they are incapable of either rational thought or conversation. Whilst the rugby world has been rocked to the core by the actions of the young players, some have come forward expressing the view that such a backlash was only a matter of time.
"This was inevitable," said one former Welsh international who did not wish to be named. "In the amateur days players could unwind, have a few beers and take their mind off things. Even in the early days of professionalism players still liked a drink. But taking these young men and pushing them so hard and asking them to go without beer, women and fast food, well…it's not natural! You are going to get a backlash at some point. Sometimes players need to go out and steal a taxi or two. You know, just have a laugh. No harm done."
Gatland's 'young guns' were praised as products of Wales' new academies which seem to finally be producing much needed strength in depth for the rugby mad nation. Furthermore, the media praised the Welsh team for their exemplary behaviour in New Zealand during the World Cup. Previous Welsh teams have had a notorious reputation for being unfit and prone to a drinking culture which prevented young talent from excelling. The exodus of young players from the current squad will be seen as evidence that the Welsh will always find a way to self-destruct.
Warren Gatland was also in attendance at the press conference. Looking a broken man he finished with an emotional plea to the youth of Wales: "If you are Welsh, male, big, fast, like the gym and don't drink much, please call us now. Polish language skills are an advantage."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery