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Page last updated at 07:58 GMT, Friday, 7 September 2007 08:58 UK

Charvis: '03 silenced our critics

Steffan Garrero of BBC Radio Wales' Back Page programme has spoken to the captains of Wales' last five World Cup squads.

We've been featuring one a day all this week and the final one is with Colin Charvis.

Colin Charvis
Colin Charvis captained Wales in the 2003 World Cup

Following the departure of Graham Henry aka the Great Redeemer in 2002, it was Steve Hansen who led Wales to the 2003 World Cup in Australia.

Captain Colin Charvis recalls Wales's preparations were not the greatest, with a run of 10 straight defeats in 2003, including a disastrous Six Nations.

But they ended that run in their final two warm-up games for the World Cup, beating Romania and Scotland.

WALES' WORLD CUP CAPTAINS

"There was a feeling after the Scotland game we were on the verge of playing some good rugby," said Charvis.

"I think that for all the downsides of the first eight months of 2003 we went into the World Cup feeling good."

Wales faced Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Tonga in the group stages and beat the Canadians 41-10, the Tongans 27-20 and the Italians 27-15.

Next came New Zealand, which they lost 53-37, but had already made it through to the quarter-finals.

We came home to a bit of a heroes' welcome even though we didn't bring a trophy home with us
Colin Charvis

"I think they way we performed surprised a lot of journalists and the public," said Charvis. "In particular a lot of people talk about the New Zealand game.

"It was not a surprise to us because we knew how hard we had worked and how we'd struggled through the summer. Despite the losses we knew we would eventually turn it around.

"I think we kind of shocked people a little bit who thought that New Zealand would have a huge walkover.

"There's no doubt that New Zealand were a better side than us on the day but I think we just surprised everyone, we weren't quite the minnow that everyone expected."

England stood in Wales' way of a place in the semi-final and at half time the underdogs had one foot in it, leading 10-9.

But a change of tactics at the break led to a change of fortunes for the English who ran out 28-17 winners.

606: DEBATE

"After a dismal 2003, we came home to a bit of a heroes' welcome after those few games in the World Cup, even though we didn't bring a trophy home with us," Charvis added.

"All that pain that we'd been through with limited success, we'd lost those two games but we felt a lot better within. It seemed a little bit more worthwhile.

"That World Cup was some of the best times I've had in my rugby career and obviously to captain your country at the same time was a huge privilege."

England lifted the William Webb Ellis Trophy after Johnny Wilkinson's last-gasp drop goal to beat Australia 20-17.

Wales kick off their 2007 World Cup campaign on Sunday against Canada in Nantes.

*The Back Page has a regular slot on Saturdays, 0830-0900 BST



see also
Rugby World Cup 2007 fixtures
16 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
BBC Radio Wales' The Back Page
13 Jul 07 |  Wales
Wales' World Cup foes up close
30 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Scrum V's rugby history
11 Aug 07 |  Welsh


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