Gatland laments lack of strong Welsh competition
November 11, 2013
Old friends? Not exactly. Warren Gatland in conversation with referee Alain Rolland before Saturday's international © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland has blamed the lack of high-class competitive rugby for his side's failure to beat South Africa on Saturday. It was his 22nd match against one of the three big southern hemisphere sides while in charge of Wales of which they have only one.
"The opportunity that South Africa and southern hemisphere teams get to play at that level all the time, whether in the Championship or Super Rugby," he said. "We get maybe four or five chances a year.
"It's not the fitness or physicality, it's that tempo and speed of thought and it sometimes takes a bit of time to get used to it. The southern hemisphere sides have been together for a few months and you could feel they were pretty organised.
"That's the big difference and the advantage that southern hemisphere teams have over us. Coming out of club rugby or regional rugby, talking to our players, and it's chalk and cheese the difference.
"That's why every autumn we want to play the best teams in the world because that's what prepares us. Ironically, it's almost like pre-season getting ready for the Six Nations but we don't want it to be like that because we want to hit the ground running and beat these teams."
Wales have two winnable games against Argentina and Tonga to come before they face Australia on November 30.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup