No doubting Thomas

Welsh captain Gareth Thomas left no one in doubt that he had issues with Grand Slam-winning coach Mike Ruddock, who dramatically quit a week ago.

Thomas, in a television interview, also confirmed (through his statements) that there were issues between Ruddock and the players and at the heart of it is the player perception that Ruddock won the Six Nations for Wales and not the players.

“Why should I have to say what my issue with Mike is, when Mike knows it and I know it? I have played 11 years for Wales, I have given everything. What we need to remember here is it wasn’t just Mike who won the Grand Slam and who won all the games. We actually laced our boots up and other coaches came in and helped.”

Ruddock, who coached Wales to 13 wins from 20 Tests in charge, including victories over Australia, England and France, is set to raise a number of points which could embarrass WRU chief executive Steve Lewis, promoted from within the governing body after David Moffett stepped down in December.

“I will raise the issue of why it was that we went into the Six Nations without having in place contracts for any of the three Grand Slam-winning coaching team (Ruddock, Johnson and defence expert Clive Griffiths), particularly having already lost fitness coach Andrew Hore,” Ruddock said.

“If there were disaffected players I will raise the issue of any support structure that should have been in place to deal immediately and appropriately with the matter,” he also told the Western Mail, Wales’s national newspaper.

As for his coaching record, Ruddock added: “Rugby fans in Wales who watched my coaching career since I started by winning the Monmouthshire League at Blaina nearly 20 years ago, know I have had sustained success during it.

“For example, two championships at Swansea, plus one Welsh Cup triumph, and a victory over world champions Australia in 1992.

“In Leinster, I won the Irish inter-provincial championship and also managed three wins in Europe against Leicester, one of which was at Welford Road.

“I saw my role when I took over as Wales coach in the spring of 2004 as fixing the key areas that weren’t operating to their potential, notably the scrum, line-out and defence… I think the public saw the improvement during the Six Nations Grand Slam-winning campaign of last year.

“As Sir Clive Woodward (England’s World Cup-winning coach) said the other day, the role of head coach is more that of a manager, empowering others to put your plans into action. I think I have done that pretty effectively.”