Posts Tagged ‘ Wales ’

Wales as Favourites? Not for the lad of 1998.

Probably too bleak a title to lead into tomorrow’s match in Twickenham. Wales are very much the favourites, even if the majority of us Welsh fans don’t cope well with such suggestions. On form, on talent and on experience Wales stand, on paper at least, a year or two ahead of the current English team, and were the game to be played in Cardiff, any sense of doubt might be laughed out of the room. And yet…and yet, there are those of us who are scarred, tortured even by the memories of our past, of games lost, of dreams crushed, of humiliations endured time and again. You see good reader, I was there in 1998.

Now many Welsh fans will probably either be of an age where that date is too long gone to earn a place in the memory banks, or too painful for those who saw it to be discussed in the light of day. But for a young lad, travelling to his first away game in Twickenham, following his beloved Wales into the belly of the beast, 1998 left an indelible mark on that fragile memory. On that day, Wales were certainly no favourites, indeed Wales in those days was the team that pretty much everyone in the then 5Nations expected to beat – but no one, not even those oh so jolly English men, could have imagined what would happen. We need not dwell on the details, but the result, Wales 26…England 60.

Suffice to say, it was a long afternoon for the corner of Welsh fans, shoved into the upper levels of the home of English rugby, to endure. Try after cursed try was planted with increased ease over the Welsh try line, the jeers of the home fans, frustrated by the standard of opposition offered by Wales on the day, rang down on player and red clad fan alike. We all carried our share of shame that day – how could that which stood to represent our beloved nation prove so ineffective and impotent in the face of the enemy that should have brought out the best in them.

Some memories die hard, so you will forgive me, I hope, if the concept of Wales travelling to Twickenham as match favourites is something that proves a little challenging to accept – 1998 has never truly been forgotten or forgiven.

Yet, destiny brings us once again to Twickenham, a return to the venue of that darkest of days. Fate sees fit to point towards Wales and say ‘you chosen XV, you are the favourites for this occasion – you must now deliver’ – and those nervous many in Wales line up to shudder and crouch, whispering to each other while rocking back and forth ‘no, no, not favourites, can’t be favourite, lose if favourites…’ we are a troubled bunch when it comes to our rugby. Even when the rugby world recognises us as the most likely team to take a result, we are still the ones to hold back and say ‘no’. Well, please don’t blame us, 1998 and many such occasions have left their mark.

So, Wales travel east, and with them they go the troubled memories of a 14 year old lad – in the hope not just of a win, but also with a prayer, that those memories might once and for all be banished. Do it for Wales, but do it for the mental well being of that 14 year old, locked in the mind of a man much older now, but still haunted by the terrifying sight he saw on the Twickenham field all those years ago.

Come on Cymru, please Cymru, pretty please, let that lad get some restful sleep, when in the future thoughts once again turn to that Twickenham game…

Central contracts and all that…

What a palaver Welsh rugby seems to be in at the moment. The most promising start to a Six Nations since 2008, arguably the most successful World Cup effort ever, while the national team can pull a crowd of 13,000 just to see them go through a light contact training session – things have never been better eh? Not if you have anything to do with a Welsh region it would seem. We’ve mulled over the problems of nobody watching Welsh club rugby anymore, though the recent return of the Cardiff Blues to their homeland has seen the sorts of crowds you expect to see when rugby is played where it is supposed to be played…but let’s not get into club v regions again, everyone is a little tired of that these days.

No, now the problem is players, and holding on to them. It seems that in the space of a season, Wales is suddenly home to the most attractive rugby playing commodities in Europe, and everyone, well, the French and English at least, want a piece of the pie. Gethin Jenkins is off to France, we understand in a reaction to Cardiff head honcho Peter Thomas announcing players would no longer be paid while on international duty – something which must on some levels be very hard to argue with. So central contracts come up once again.

It’s an idea that comes around every season or so, whispered in quiet corners where the WRU can’t hear, except now it seems that the majority in Welsh rugby are screaming about central contracts, directly in to the faces of the Welsh Rugby Union.  Given the salary caps and budgetary problems faced by all the Welsh regions, seeing your most heavily paid assets disappear for half the year can’t be easy – akin to allowing your left arm to go on holiday for 2 out of every 5 working weekdays – it would at the very least inconvenience you. So central contracts offer a certain fairness and sensibility to the proceedings, and after all, the WRU these days is not the lumbering debt ridden beast of old, it is a financial machine, geared towards profitability and turn over, surely they have a penny or two set aside to cover such an initiative?

However, the problem facing the concept is there is nothing to say that it would in any way improve the current situation. The majority of Welsh stars turn out for Welsh regions anyway, yet the crowds don’t come, and the results in Europe are rare. Though many might cry ‘but what of the national team’? Well, it was widely accepted that Stephen Jones was reinvented as a player having spent time in France, while both James Hook and Mike Phillips seem to be undergoing somewhat of a renaissance in their southern surroundings. When central contracts come up, I am often left wondering why it is a bad thing to let the French and English cover the costs of enhancing Welsh players – after all, the French are not looking to block Welsh talent, if they are investing in it, then they will look to make the most of the product.

On top of that, how many players can Welsh rugby sustain anyway? If we take the Scarlets for instance, here is a club that has invested heavily in local youth development, and has produced a raw team littered with international potential. They might not be able to hold onto every single player, but is it necessary? When Dwayne Peel left many lamented his loss to the Welsh game – but did Welsh rugby really miss him after all? If the entire first XV of the Welsh national team were to play abroad, would the system collapse? No is the simple answer. Would training for the national team be harder, potentially, but one would hope that those travelling overseas would still look to prioritise Wales, yet if they are not so inclined, then why would we consider them for the Welsh team in the first place?  Like the regional system or not, it is hard, when looking at the current Welsh squad, to suggest that it is not working, the players coming out of it are very good for something that is in theory broken – if some go to France, there are others waiting for their chance.

This is of course not to say that the idea of central contracts is a bad one, and in theory, keeping all of the Welsh international team at home should be a good thing for the nation, regions and clubs. That being said, what evidence that we do have does not suggest that when we do have all these assets at home, that the positives necessarily occur, and likewise, for those examples of players going overseas, it has not always been the great evil some fear it to be.

One way for the regions to go would be to invest in the local talent, and invest in the local fans. Get this right, and the player resources and finances to sustain it will be there for the future, get those things wrong and however many central contracts are thrown around, will do nothing for the future of the game or the survival of Welsh rugby, be it at club, regional or international level.

Newport Rebellion.

Not the usually commentary or photographs here, but more a promotional nod and a wave of approval for the newest enterprise in Newport (South Wales), the Tiny Rebel Brewery. It’s been a bit of a promotional nightmare for Newport in recent months. Channel 4’s ‘Bouncers’, while a fair reflection on an element of Newport life, was probably a little on the side of sensational (I was wondering through Newport a few days ago in the daylight hours and saw no signs of riots or blooded half cut teenagers, let alone any bouncers), while what should be one of Newport’s most commercially viable platforms, their European playing regional rugby team, seems to be losing player based assets on a daily basis, and let’s not even begin to deal with the ghost town that Commercial Street, the supposed economic heart of the shopping district, has become…all in all, there are few positives to be shouting about.

That being said, there are those in and from Newport, who see the opportunities for positive engagement, and this new brewery stands as a positive symbol on numerous levels. For a new business to be born in the city is an exciting endeavour, and bucks the usual news story trends to dominate south Wales headlines regarding the town, but it is equally positive to see a new micro brewery, Newport’s first, appear on the ale stage. Real ale in many respects mirrors Newport’s decline and ongoing struggle. But for new purveyors of that delicious brew, given the name of hops, is a positive for both ale in south Wales, and Newport as a whole.

Plenty to be found on the Tiny Rebel brewery here: (the art work really is worth a look on its own). It’s very early days, but it is for now, at the very least, the makings of a good news story for the city, and we might all raise a pint to what is currently a small enterprise, but given the right level of support and continued enthusiasm, might well have the potential to become a positive and recognisable Newport brand, something the city has long needed.

Cheers Tiny Rebels, and iechyd da!

The Welsh Rugby Team Training Session.

Some distant images of the Welsh rugby team training infront of over 10,000 fans.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then came Scotland…

Round 2 of the Six Nations then and Wales find themselves in a position which few pundits from outside of the country expected them to be in, with a win under the belt. Whatever can or has been said about tip tackles, yellow and red cards, and missed opportunities, it’s hard to take much away from the Welsh performance in Dublin. Before the game there were concerned mutterings about how the lineout would function, and sure enough, the only consistent tool at Ireland’s disposal was their dominance in the line – why they did not kick to the corners more often remains a baffling uncertainty. Regardless of whether or not Ireland made the best use of their strongest weapon, Wales, for the most part, made the most of theirs. Were it not for certain questions being asked of TMOs and kicks going astray, Wales may well have had the game sown up in the first half, such was their physical dominance.

So to Scotland then, and already the crowds skip merrily down Queens Street with ‘Grand Slam’ tattoos already being applied to foreheads across Cardiff – but then it wouldn’t the Six Nations if we didn’t like to get carried away with things! Yet on the evidence of the first round of matches, it is perhaps not an overstatement to suggest that Wales are at the very least amongst the favourites.

With Ireland, the main fears focused on the lineout, so what of Scotland this week? Well, ball dropping incidents aside, the Dan Park related catastrophes forgotten as best we might try, Scotland attacked well. The likes of Lamont and Evans made good inroads, while the Scottish backrow, supported ably by the obvious presence of Ritchie Gray, caused devastation around the English fringes. Were it not for generosity in relation to charged down kicks, wet weather gloves for those slippery fingers, and of course a more generous TMO (it looked like a Scottish try from here), then Scotland might well have romped to a victory. As with the Wales fixture in 2010, Scotland should have been walking away with a win.

However, Scotland’s strength was based on a very powerful forward display. England were consistently bullied in the pack (despite the ‘one each’ efforts of the referee when it came to controlling the scrum and breakdown) and it allowed Scotland the room in which they could make such telling breaks. Dan Parks as well, as predictably dull as he might be, could put the team in the right areas of the field to play. Parks as we know is gone (somewhat to our relief, Parks knows how to undo Welsh rugby teams), as is Ewan Murray due to faith commitments. In one week, two of Scotland’s most effective players (Parks may not be good, but good and effective are not always the same thing) are gone, at the same time as Wales welcomes back two of theirs, Gethin Jenkins and Dan Lydiate. If anything, the Scottish team that lost looks weaker, the Welsh team that won looks stronger.

For Scotland to win, the open game that they are currently boasting about would be an interesting gamble. With the form and ability of the Welsh backs, running rugby seems like the last thing the Scots should be doing. With Murray missing, the Scottish scrum as a weapon will be deflated, but then there is always the lineout. With the likes of Gray to rely on, Scotland can target Wales’ one obvious weakness in the way that Ireland should have done – especially now that Wales are reduced to a single recognised second row. That being said, the man who could pressure Wales in this area, by placing the ball in the right place, Dan Parks, in no longer on the scene. It is with a heavy sense of irony that the one player who might really have undone Wales will be taking not part in proceedings.

There is a way that Scotland can win, and it should not be pretty. Tight, around the fringes and from good lineout pressure, these are the ways in which Scotland could force a result. Opening the game up against a Welsh side that, despite letting Ireland score twice, generally looked solid in defence, and is of course more than capable of matching the scoring rate of other opposition which, frankly, has proven more effective than Scotland of late (the lack of ability to cross the whitewash must be haunting Scotland now – inspiration or heavy burden at this point), would be an impressive and potentially costly gamble.

With one game under everyone’s belt though, and a sense of form to go on, predictions can be made, and it would be a very eager punter who would bet against Wales, especially if the Scots insist on closed roofs – it may suit their game plan, but it certainly will do little to hinder the way Wales will want to play.

Wales: Here Be Winged Giants.

So we finally know. Warren Gatland has whipped off the curtain on his next generation of Welsh Rugby Stars, and shown a hand that is inclined towards the big, the battering and the aggressive. For all the injuries faced by the Welsh squad in key locations, Gatland has managed to assemble a team that looks threatening and powerful, no more so than on the wings. In the known quantity of George North, Wales have a world recognised threat, who in recent games has seen his space vanish as teams mark him out of the game. Now Wales have a second North, or a first Cuthbert, as the next giant from the wing production line comes out. Cuthbert though, while perhaps not having quite the explosive step of North, actually ‘dwarfs’ the huge North (okay, by 2 inches, but such things count for a lot these days). Couple this with the emergence of Rhys Gill this season, whose form has made him one of the most dynamic front row players in Europe this year, and Wales seem to have found a new raft of players to go with the stellar World Cup finds.

So to their first test, a new Six Nations for a team who will no doubt be weighed down with their fair share of expectation given their showing in New Zealand, yet they face in their first fixture a team who carry their own helpings of national demands for success. Ireland are many pundits firm favourites for the tournament, and who would deny them such an accolade given the way in which their regions are romping over Europe. Add to that all this talk of revenge and surely the Irish will be firing on all cylinders? Well, for the pre-match talk at least, everything sounds very similar to a few months ago, when these teams contested a certain World Cup quarter final. Then the talk was of the Irish regions and their recent achievements, then the talk was of Mike Phillips and ‘owing Wales one’. Scan the news pages, and it seems like the Irish are stuck in the summer/autumn of 2011.

Wales will know though that this is an Irish team that at the very least ‘should’ be high on confidence, even without Brian O’Driscoll to shoulder the burden of the late game revival that we have become so used to. Yet, regional rugby aside, Wales remain a threat. In fact, all this talk of regions may as well be ignored for all the relevance it has to the national game. If international rugby was based on regional showings, Ireland and France would be the only nations to have contested a Six Nations in recent years, and these grand slams and championships that Wales and England have put together of late would be a figment of our imaginations. No, the team selected by Warren Gatland has more than enough fire power, in the forwards and the backs, to trouble anyone, whatever is happening in the clubs game. If the Irish stop a returning Jamie Roberts, then will they stop North, and if they stop North, will then they stop Cuthbert? Contending first with Gill and Jones in the front row, the Irish pack will have serious questions posed of them, and rolling from the back of the pack, an in-form Ryan Jones rumbling on with Faletau and Warburton – they will all have eyes on whoever carries the No10 jersey.

For weak links, the second row. Ireland will surely dominate in this area, and look to kick to the corner as often as possible and from wherever they are on the field. Try and run at this Welsh team, and the World Cup quarter final showing will come back on the Irish like a rash. There is one obvious game plan for Ireland, and it does not involve the backs or ‘open rugby’. Stick to what they know best, and the Irish should be able to squeeze the life out of Wales in this area alone, and might well have done even if Wales had their first choice second rows on display.

Yet the one unknown quantity is of course, and once again, Poland. Ireland will be the guinea pigs in many respects. The video footage released from the Poland camps looked hard, and toughening. All through the World Cup, game by game, the camp was dismissed as all talk, and nothing special, but what marked Welsh performances as special, was their ability to do it for the whole 80 minutes. Bring the same fitness levels to the field, and Wales may well be able to do to the Irish what the Irish hate most, beat them.

Ireland as favourites, no doubt there, but dismiss the Welsh at your peril, Grand Slams come on a three yearly cycle these days, and a return to a Polish spa might well be the start of another one…

Photo blog: St Fagans

Chance saw a return to St Fagans today, and although the National Museum site appears frequently on these pages, it’s always a worth another look. Recent images from the Celtic Village on show here, enjoy it while it lasts, only a year left on this one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then the Six Nations Came…

One thing after another these days, World Cups, one off internationals, club games, European games, LV Cup games, and to cap it all, the Six Nations starts just as winter decides, having been distracted by rugby for so long, to finally make an appearance, just in time to make all those away day train trips a little bit more unbearable. Suffice to say, it’s been a long season (officially this is still part of the 2010-11 season for anyone keeping track – with an IRB directive issued earlier in the year indicating that the 2011-12 season will happen between April and May before going straight into the pre 2013-14 season build up), and one which is taking its toll. No shortage of teams are already patching up their squads, with at least two of the nations involved bringing some giant squads to the party in preparation for the inevitable whittling down of those capable of walking.

So, excited much for the imminent tournament? If you are the BBC then you know already that England won the tournament several weeks ago, and a number of journeymen Europeans are going to be scrapping it out for the crumbs under their table. Then, you never know. The nice thing about a post world cup Six Nations is that predictions tend to go out of the window. Those who underperformed are ringing the changes, those who over performed are often paying the price for their success in a body count. Certainly for two of the three games this weekend, you would be hard pressed to call either fixture.

France at home seems to be a certainty to defeat Italy. The Italians rarely cope well in the early days of a new coaching regime, and to produce a result in Paris on day one of the new era seems far too much to ask. Scotland hosting England though is another kettle of fish. Not a great deal of change from a Scots perspective, other than a need to banish a sense of underachievement from the summer, when for want of conviction they really should have topped their group, yet fell by the wayside at stage 1. England come to the tournament having, for many in the international community, taken to putting every English qualified player’s name into a hat, and drawn them at random to produce their current squad. Of course there was a little more logic to it than that, but certainly new names are the theme of the squad. It’s almost impossible to say what England will do, their new coach was still part of the wider coaching structure that oversaw the World Cup shortcomings, yet the desperation in England to banish the ghost of New Zealand will surely force them to play a more expansive game. Yet, with so many new faces, and a frozen Edinburgh awaiting them, is it too much to expect them to revert to type once more?

For Wales and Ireland, it’s familiar territory. More will follow on this game during the week, but for now, it’s worth noting that there are more familiar faces in this fixture than in many of the other line-ups to be had in the tournament. Old battles, one on ones replayed, heck, there is still a change that O’Gara at the grand old age of 74 will get a starting birth, there is little ‘new’ to be found in this fixture. On paper the Irish should have it, with the regions in dominant form in Europe and a home advantage, there can be no obvious excuse for why the Irish should fall short in their first fixture. Yet historically Ireland have failed to hit the ground running in the Six Nations, and more than once in recent years they have opened the tournament at home, with fixtures that should have been won, only for the game to trickle away. And yet, even with all the talent in Ireland, so often the solution has been to put the ball in the hands of O’Driscoll and leave it to him to save the day, one thing that certainly won’t be happening this year. Wales though, while the form team from the World Cup, have the air of a team that is running on empty, with walking wounded being the tale of yet another Six Nations opening weekend. But then there is Poland, and how Poland transformed an underachieving team into near World beaters – will the ice baths do it for Wales again?

The way the fixtures fall, Wales and England look to have the most favourable draw for any slam ambitions, but for a winner, well, let’s see what happens this weekend, as six teams, unrecognisable in some cases, unpredictable in others, show us what has been happening in those training camps this weekend.

Klom, the Commission and Cardiff.

Some days it’s hard not to love twitter, few other platforms would allow you to engage in a heated unmoderated exchanges with politicians and civil servants in quite the same way. This week provided an excellent example of just this, as top EU civil servant and general loiterer of Wales, Andy Klom took an exception of sorts to EyeOnWales musings. His attention had been drawn to this entry: where we proudly unveiled Klom as the 9th worst Welsh politician or political figure. Now, it’s hard to say whether Klom took exception to being listed, or that he was listed as a politician, and he went to some lengths to elaborate on the fact that he was indeed a civil servant, we assured him that despite his status, his contribution to Wales in 2011 was such a poor investment for Wales that he more than earned his place amongst the politicos. Enjoy the exchange for yourself below:

25 Jan

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales is trashing me on Twitter&website. I’m 9th in Top10 list of worst Welsh politicians. An honour a Dutchman&civil servant like me.

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales doesn’t know difference between civil servant and politician. I’m in same league as Andrew RT, Ieuan, Cheryl&Peter. Real honour.

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales doesn’t know what EU is doing in Wales. Why not check the internet, our website, or just give us a ring? Always welcome folks…

 AndyKlomEU Andy Klom

@EyeOnWales: thanks for replies. Good to know you attended all our recent events, speeches, briefings. Always happy to go the extra mile…

Now there was much to discuss following that exchange, but Klom’s assertion at the end of this exchange, that the EU is doing good work in Wales, and going the ‘extra mile’, required a little more consideration.

Here is the list of official engagements from the EU office in Cardiff in 2011…the location for the office alone should stand as a good indication for where we will be going with this one…:

7 December – “A Federal Europe in the Making? Europe 2020, the European Semester and the Euro Plus Pact”, Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay

5 December – Putting Wales on the Map, Cardiff City Hall.  A day celebrating the European Year of Volunteering 2011, organised by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, with support from the EC Office in Wales.

21-22 November – The Graduate Event, Cardiff City Hall: EC staff on hand to give information on EU careers.

21 November – “What does it mean to be European?”, Aberystwyth Arts Centre.  A debate on identity arranged by the Welsh Centre for Intenational Affairs, in collaboration with the EC Office in Wales.

15 November – Wales Forum on Europe: “Towards Europe 2020: How to maximise the opportunities from and influence the new EU programmes in Wales for 2014-2020”.  A conference arranged as part of the EU Committee of the Regions Open Days events by the Welsh Government, with support from the EC Office in Wales. In Cardiff.

10 November – Gwilym Jones, Member of European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş’ Cabinet, visits Wales to speak at the Hybu Cig Cymru Annual Conference and to discuss the CAP reform proposals. Hotel near Cardiff.

22 October – The Language Show Live, London: Staff from the EC Office in Wales will be on hand to answer questions from students and teachers, and to provide publications in Welsh.

20 October – Europe 2020 and the Digital Agenda: “Going local in Wales”.  A conference held at the Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff), based on the European Union’s Digital Agenda, including keynote speeches from the Welsh Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology & Science, Edwina Hart, and DG INFSO’s Director for Converged Networks and Services, Megan Richards.  

28 September – ‘Sounds of Europe’: European Day of Languages event at Cardiff University.  An evening celebrating the diverse languages of Europe and beyond.

24 September – EC Office in Wales presence at CILT Cymru’s European Day of Languages celebrations at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

14 September – Fourth Mock EU Council, organised by the Welsh Government in collaboration with the EC Office in Wales, involving schools from across the country.  Held in Ty Hywel at the National Assembly in Cardiff.

30 July – 6 August – Information stand at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham, in conjunction with the Europe Direct Offices in Wrexham and Llangollen and supported by CILT Cymru.

18 – 21 July – EC Office in Wales information stand at the Royal Welsh Show.

13 July – Andy Klom, Head of EC Office in Wales, opened the final of the Routes into Languages Cymru Spelling Bee Competition 2011, organised by Routes into Languages – CILT Cymru. 

4 – 8 July – Information stand at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, in conjunction with the Europe Direct Centres in Wrexham and Llangollen.

30 May – 4 June – Information stand at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Swansea, in conjunction with British Council Wales.

12 May – Aberystwyth University EuroFun Day, supported by the EC Office in Wales.

9 May – Europe Day!: Cardiff Library hosted day long celebrations including story telling, speeches and workshops.  Later on Cardiff University’s European Documentation Centre hosted its annual EuroQuiz.  Both events were supported by the EC Office in Wales.

17 February – Andy Klom, Head of EC Office in Wales, speaks at opening of new Centre for European Studies at Aberyswyth University.

8 February – Wales, Europe & the World event at Cardiff City Hall.  A schools’ event organised in conjunction with CILT Cymru and Cardiff City Council, involving a series of workshops encouraging young people to engage in Europe.

A list of 20 official engagements, supporting this and that, with some face showing here and there.

11 events hosted in Cardiff,

3 events in Aberystwyth,

1 event in London,

1 non specific speaking role,

4 information stands at major Welsh cultural events.

Now, having been to every Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show for some time, there is little to be said for the promotional merits of the EU’s information stands: presentable, quiet, generally empty, as ‘events’ these hold no weight, and can with some ease be dismissed. That leaves a grand total of 16 ‘events’, though those outside of Cardiff largely boil down to Klom and company speaking at openings – and what an impact I’m sure they made on those delegates in attendance. That leaves 11 events in Cardiff, conferences, lectures, and general public engagement of some meaningful level of commitment that went beyond turning up, saying ‘congratulations’ and sipping the free champagne. Frankly, little that the EU office in Wales does outside of Cardiff is worth the train fair to follow their message. If you want to actually engage with the EU in Wales, come to Cardiff. They won’t be going the ‘extra mile’ as Klom likes to put it, but you sure will have to if you don’t live in the capital.

Elin Jones on the Charge.

The Plaid leadership battle has already started to heat up, and with nominations set to close tonight, the campaigning for many has already begun. Elin Jones has led the way this week, coming out with a raft of interesting and almost good ideas regarding Welsh referendums. While it is nice to finally see some assertive action coming from the favourite to take the party leadership, they come with a degree of surprise given Jones’ previous reticence to say anything of substance on anything. We have a theory on where all these clear policies are coming from…