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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 20:00 GMT
Thomas admits to Ruddock concerns
Wales captain Gareth Thomas and ex-coach Mike Ruddock
Wales captain Gareth Thomas says he raised issues with the Welsh Rugby Union over former coach Mike Ruddock "not taking a full responsibility".

In an animated discussion on BBC Wales' Scrum V rugby show, Thomas vehemently denied questioning Ruddock's coaching skills but admitted issues with him.

Angry at rumours that player power caused Ruddock's exit, Thomas said he always raised problems face-to-face.

He called for support against Ireland, saying the team was not about one man.

Ruddock will put his case in a meeting with the WRU board on Tuesday.

No one player or coach is bigger than anyone else in this team, we were all happy with Mike's role in the team
Gareth Thomas

Thomas says that a now-infamous meeting between the players and WRU chief executive Steve Lewis did not decide Ruddock's fate.

The Toulouse full-back claims that such meetings were routine and that the squad approached Lewis to discuss concerns over insurance, a worry that caused them to consider not taking the field against Scotland.

Thomas says that Ruddock's name only arose in passing at the end of the meeting and that Lewis immediately told the players he would not get involved as it was between them and the coach.

Newspaper allegations have claimed that the squad felt Ruddock was delegating too much responsibility, but Thomas would not elaborate on the issues he had felt it necessary to raise with his former boss.

Ex-Wales captain Jonathan Davies suggested that Ruddock had jumped before he was pushed and that rumours of the coach's isolation in the camp had begun five months ago, but Thomas denied this.

"I'm not aware of those rumours, everybody was happy with the coaching set-up and everyone had their own part in it, Mike, Scott Johnson and Clive Griffiths," said Thomas.

"No one player or coach is bigger than anyone else in this team, we were all happy with Mike's role in the team, he was an important part of the machine.

"It's not just Mike who won the Grand Slam, we laced the boots on as players and there were other coaches involved. Credit should be spread everywhere and Mike agrees with that.

We spoke to the Union about Scott and asked them to do all in their powers to keep him
Gareth Thomas

"If I have anything to say to Mike I say it to his face and we've agreed to disagree on many occasions. He knew what I was discussing with Steve Lewis as I told him about it beforehand.

"Mike has told everyone that he left for family reasons, so what more can we say? We're players, not politicians, and want to win a rugby game."

Thomas said there was a distinction between the players' repeated encouragement for Scott Johnson to stay and their acceptance of Ruddock's departure.

"Scott has said he wants to stay if his family situation allows while Mike has said he's leaving," said the skipper.

"We spoke to the Union about Scott and asked them to do all in their powers to keep him, but those discussions made no mention of Mike that I can recall.

"We did ask Steve Lewis what Mike's contract situation was, but of course we wanted him to stay.

I've not slept for five nights worrying about the things that I've been accused of
Gareth Thomas

"When I found out about his departure I was in France, I don't know what went on when I was away."

Thomas admitted that the furore around Ruddock's departure had piled on the pressure ahead of next Sunday's Six Nations game with Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

"Of course there's extra pressure, I've not slept for five nights worrying about the things that I've been accused of," he said.

"All the media would like us to go to Dublin and lose, if we win everything's rosy again and that doesn't sell newspapers.

"The Championship is still there for us if we have the backing and support of the fans.

"But if we keep fuelling the fire I guarantee we won't be able to go to Ireland and win."




SEE ALSO
Thomas comments surprise Ruddock
20 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Ruddock gets Wales showdown date
18 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Wales chief denies Ruddock coup
17 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Ruddock & players deny Wales rift
16 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Johnson 'did not covet' Wales job
15 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Ruddock steps down as Wales coach
14 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Johnson ready for Wales challenge
14 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Ruddock's legacy
15 Feb 06 |  Six Nations


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