Rhys Thomas is aged 16 and from Birmingham. He has been supporting the Blues and Cardiff RFC for over 10 years, and he writes for a blog called walesrugby.org.uk, which he has been writing for since the 2011 World Cup. His best Rugby moment was watching Wales beat Australia in 2005 at the Millennium Stadium.
The start of the season has certainly been a mixed one for the Blues. Two wins and three losses in the RaboDirect PRO12 isn’t a great return for the capital city region. The changes over the summer have been well-documented, and although many fans didn’t expect a highly successful season, they expected a better standard of Rugby than they have seen so far.
The sense of dread that many fans felt before the season kicked off was tempered by the first competitive win of the season, against Connacht out in Galway. Never an easy place to go, a pragmatic victory gave the Cardiff faithful hope that the Blues could do something this season. That feeling was short lived as the feted return to the Arms Park didn’t produce a home victory. Instead, Greig Laidlaw took the plaudits as he struck with a last minute drop goal to take the win for the Scottish side. Another reason for despair amongst fans was, and still is, the scrum. With only one adequate tighthead in new signing Benoit Bourrust, it looks like it’s going to be a long old season.
Some brief respite however, and the derby victory against the Dragons was sweet as it always is. To go to Rodney Parade and beat our East Wales rivals at Newport is always a morale booster. Young Rhys Patchell’s debut at outside-half was inspired – he showed his full skill set in a hostile atmosphere – and he marked himself out as one for the future. The feel-good factor continued into the next week as we secured a first home win, scoring four tries against Treviso. These were two thoroughly competent performances, and expectations rose as a result.
The last two PRO12 matches for the Blues have been quite frankly awful. Both at home to Ulster and Glasgow, the Blues have gone down with barely a whimper, losing 48-19 and 18-3 respectively. The Cardiff scrum was taken apart in both matches, as we have seen in previous matches. This will be a constant problem for them throughout the season unless it is fixed – especially against the top teams. Head coach Phil Davies has come in for a lot of flak – but the fact is that he has inherited a team that isn’t his. He was appointed after the majority of signings were made, and he also hasn’t had access to a huge amount of money yet. He has had to make do with what he’s got, and until he can bring in his own favoured personnel we can’t truly judge his performances as coach.
The next two RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures are against Leinster and Munster – no doubt two of the most difficult matches in the competition. Most wouldn’t give the Blues a chance in either of these games, and I would be one of those. Cardiff have some fine backs, including Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts, but until the team can get the platform at the set piece their skills won’t be utilised to their fullest.
Biggest surprise so far? – Rhys Patchell – came from nowhere to win Man of the Match in his first PRO12 appearance.
Most valuable player so far this season? – Benoit Bourrust – when he is on the pitch he holds our scrum together!
Overall season prediction for your side? – 8th
Other predictions? – Dan Parks (highest points scorer)
Who’s going to win the RaboDirect PRO12? – Ulster