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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 15:27 GMT
Welsh stunned by Ruddock's exit
Former Wales coach Mike Ruddock
Ruddock's departure came as a huge shock
Mike Ruddock's decision to quit as national coach has been greeted with disbelief across Wales.

Ex-Wales star Jonathan Davies told BBC Radio Five Live: "What's happened has been a shock to everyone. I don't think anyone really knows what's happened.

"If it is for personal reasons you've got to respect that.

"But knowing Mike I don't think he walks away from any challenges and I think a lot of things will come out in the next couple of weeks."

Ruddock said his departure as coach was down to family reasons.

There have been suggestions that Ruddock - described by Davies as "a proud and honest man" - was eased out by player power, and also that he had fallen out with the WRU management over contract talks.

I am almost gasping with astonishment
Gareth Edwards

Players boycotted a news conference last week until BBC sport journalist Graham Thomas, the ghost writer of Gavin Henson's book about the 2004-05 season, left the venue, and Davies said he thought the issues were connected.

"I think some of the management didn't want the media ban or the media walkout last week - maybe that's what brought it all to a head," he said.

But Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Lewis denied receiving a letter from Wales players complaining about Ruddock.

"I received no documentation from any player regarding dissatisfaction with Mike Ruddock and I've not had any meetings with any players," said Lewis.

"I'm not aware of any unease in the camp about Mike's coaching."

Former Wales captain and scrum-half Gareth Edwards was just as amazed as Davies at the news of Ruddock's departure.

There's been a lot of speculation about the real reason - if there is a real reason - but the players were happy with Mike
Wales lock Brent Cockbain

"I am almost gasping with astonishment," Edwards told the Western Mail newspaper.

"Mike was the dynamo that made all the other parts work. This is certainly a blow to the Welsh set-up - his contribution has been absolutely immense."

Wales second row Brent Cockbain, who is out of the whole of the 2006 Six Nations because of injury, echoed the former players' surprise.

"It's been a total shock to everyone I think," Cockbain told BBC Sport.

"There's been a lot of speculation about the real reason - if there is a real reason - but the players were happy with Mike - he's a great bloke.

"We've got nine days until we play Ireland and they'll be throwing more at us than words we need to concentrate on that and get behind our team."

He'd built on the platform that had been laid by his predecessor Steve Hansen
BBC rugby union correspondent Iain Robertson

BBC rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson said: "I thought that Ruddock had had a wonderful run last year - the first Welsh Grand Slam in 27 years.

"He'd changed the thinking of the Welsh team, he'd built on the platform that had been laid by his predecessor Steve Hansen.

"He'd taken it on another couple of stages and he'd got the full confidence not just of the Welsh rugby team but also the Welsh nation."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: WRU chief executive Steve Lewis


Interview: Wales captain Gareth Thomas



SEE ALSO
Ruddock steps down as Wales coach
14 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Johnson ready for Wales challenge
14 Feb 06 |  Six Nations


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