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Rugby Union: Locals stunned by Welsh war of words.

Byline: By Gareth Griffiths South Wales Echo

Amid the pomp and ceremony of Wales' official World Cup welcome at Saint Nazaire's town hall, there was almost an international incident. The place is synonymous with an Allied World War II raid on the French Atlantic port that helped disrupt German plans as St Nazaire was a key naval base.

And, more than 60 years on, Wales's rugby coach Gareth Jenkins has drawn battle lines with some elements of the Welsh media.

At the official welcome for the Wales' World Cup squad in Brittany, Jenkins continued his dispute with a specific Welsh media outlet by refusing point blank to answer questions from our sister paper, the Western Mail, because of a perceived agenda against him.

The poor French interpreter was left open-mouthed, unsure what was going on as an embarrassing silence gripped the room.

The impasse was broken by a journalist who repeated the same question that my colleague from the Mail had just asked.

It was hard to know who was more embarrassed, Jenkins, his inquisitor, the players or the local dignitaries.

What a shambles.

WALES will receive an unlikely World Cup energy boost this week when boxes of Jaffa Cakes arrive at their team hotel in Brittany.

The company have vowed to send out boxes of the cakes to all the four home union nations and their media.

And contrary to popular belief, Jaffa Cakes are not bad for you.

"There is only one gramme of fat in them," said a company spokesperson.

Thomas looks for cultural inspiration from an Afghan

CARDIFF Blues hooker Rhys Thomas, pictured, has revealed how Martyn Williams is trying to instil some culture in his life during the World Cup.

Thomas spends most of his World Cup downtime playing the Playstation in his hotel room and he claims to be constantly beating Gethin Jenkins at every game.

And the Wales hooker has admitted that while he prefers the American teen programmes like Smallville and the OC, Williams is more into the hard stuff like Rome and Emperor.

"He's trying to get me into a bit of culture," explained Thomas.

"I was in Borders with him before we came away and he told me to get The Afghan, a story about a soldier in Afghanistan.

"He said it's a really good book."

So has Thomas become a literary lover overnight? Not quite.

"I haven't started it yet but I have read the back cover," he added. Well I suppose you have to start somewhere.

MANY people have said that France has the best train service in the world. And the Canadian rugby team are putting that theory to the test this weekend.

While the top nations have spent the last few months considering their logistical problems in getting to and from training and matches, Wales' Pool B opponents have taken a more simple approach.

After preparing for the clash against in Bordeaux, the Canucks will be arriving in Nantes on Saturday morning on the 7.30am train.

Wales will then be hoping to derail their World Cup bid 24 hours later.

James shows off linguistic skills

TALKING about the Canadians, veteran second-row Mike James found himself taking up a dual role in his nation's opening press conference in Bordeaux.

About a dozen media attended the event along with one TV camera crew from the local Bordeaux station.

Canada coach Ric Suggitt and players James and Rod Snow, as well as team ambassador and former captain Al Charron, fielded a variety of questions.

An interpreter was on hand to handle translations but James did his own translating. For after 11 years of playing professionally in the country, the Stade Francais lock is fluent in French.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 6, 2007
Words:618
Previous Article:Rugby Union: 'Give me time to get it right'.
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