ReportageWith Warren Gatland coach, the Wales XV has chained success. To the point of being part of the favorites of the Mondial.
At a height of 1.90 meters, Cliff Hillman plants his right look in ours. "In Wales, rugby is not a game. It's a religion. " At 72, the former "first class" player (which was then the first division) believes that the passion of yesteryear is not quite what it was, and that the professionalism has killed some fervor.
Nevertheless, as he prepares to support his team at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium in late August, this nation of 3.3 million people continues to live and breathe rugby. The oval ball is everywhere, from the primary classes.
Compared to the number of inhabitants, Wales has the highest ratio of sportsmen in the world, after New Zealand (excluding the "very small" countries that are Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands …) . About 2.7% of the population is laid off (3.2% for New Zealand, 1.5% for Ireland).
"When I entered high school, the first day, I played football in the yardCliff Hillman continues. I heard a cavernous voice behind me, which I remember as if it were yesterday. It was the headmaster: "What is that ? We do not play football here!" Only rugby was allowed. "
This passion explains that this small country has always been one of the great nations of Ovalie. For the last ten years, she can now rely on exceptional successes. The Leek XV has won four Six Nations Tournaments, including three Grand Slams (2008, 2012, 2019).
Short-listed in mid-August, World Rugby World Rugby, the Welsh World Rugby Federation, are contenders for the world title in Japan. "I think this team is the best I've brought to a World Cup", said the coach, Warren Gatland, at the end of August, without bluster.
"Warren Gatland changed the perception of the audience, who always considered us outsiders. It's now normal to see Wales win the Six Nations "
Sam Warburton, former captain
The Griffiths family, rugby fans, met in Cardiff in front of the Millennium Stadium, confirms. "I have never known a better team"Debby enthuses. His father, Bleddyn, nuanced slightly, believing that the indomitable XV of the 1970s was better. But you still have to go back forty years to find that good.