RWC19: Wales preview with Dom Day
Wales’ exits from the past two World Cup have been decided by small margins.
In 2011, Warren Gatland’s side were undone after just 17 minutes when skipper Sam Warburton was shown a controversial red card by referee Alain Rolland for a tip tackle on France’s Vincent Clerc – was he worthy of the sanction? That debate still rumbles on.
Four years later, Wales defeated England and progressed to the quarter-finals in buoyant fashion. They led South Africa until Fourie Du Preez capitalised on a lack of Welsh numbers on the blindside, breaking Welsh hearts with five minutes to go.
Dom Day was part of the Wales 2015 Rugby World Cup squad and despite the disappointment of leaving the tournament earlier than they perhaps should have, he says it was a period of his career he’ll always remember.
“I was hugely proud to represent Wales at the World Cup,” he said.
“I was more surprised than anyone to get the call but it’s an experience I will treasure and I will never forget.”
Day added: “Once you get to those stages it’s the smallest things that make a difference. One small defensive error from the back of a scrum and South Africa scored and won the game.”
Wales have been in fine form since 2015, especially the past season. They won a Six Nations Grand Slam in the spring and continued their 14-match unbeaten run into the summer.
One player who has been a major component of his country’s success is Saracens’ Liam Williams. An asset on and off the field, triumph at the World Cup would add to his Six Nations, European Cup and Gallagher Premiership title this year.
“They have had a great couple of years running in to this World Cup.” – Dom Day
“On the pitch he’s 60kg of enthusiasm and energy,” Day said of ‘Sanjay’. “He will never let you down in any aspect of the game.
“Off the pitch he’s one of the key characters in the squad. Relaxed and easy going. But he’s not afraid to give a bit of chat to the lads which is always entertaining.”
New recruit Rhys Carré is a fresh face in the Welsh ranks – a World Cup bolter with one cap. He’s likely to get his chance over what is a busy tournament schedule.
“I’ve heard only good things being said about him coming out of the Wales camp. He’s a big lump and looks like he can scrummage. I’m excited to see how he goes.”
First up for Wales is a Test against Georgia before clashes with Australia, Fiji and Uruguay. It’s important to get a good start with quality elsewhere in their pool should they want to progress.
“They have had a great couple of years running in to this World Cup. They won the Grand Slam and key players are hitting some form,” Day said.
“They have been hit with a couple of injuries, but I think they have the depth to overcome it.
“Georgia is one of those tricky games, they certainly are not a bad team and will be pumped to get their first game in the World Cup. Wales should win but it’s important they put a good performance in, particularly in the pack as the Georgians are big fellas.”
That being said, how far does Day think Wales can go?
“All the bloody way.”