Pro 12 Season Preview: Cardiff Blues
The end of last season couldn’t come quick enough for the Cardiff Blues. A fan boycott of the Cardiff City Stadium had finally led to the utter embarrassment of there being little over three thousand fans to say farewell to the senior players that were leaving. These were players that some could be described as legends in their own right, like Martyn Williams, who had given their all to the shirt and they were so poorly rewarded in their farewell game.
Whilst the reasons behind the boycott are understandable, and indeed it’s been a success as now the Cardiff Blues will be back playing at their old hunting ground, The Cardiff Arm’s Park, to reward your players with such poor thanks was disgraceful behaviour.
The Cardiff Blues will very much be hoping to start again, on better footing back at their old ground. The atmosphere at least, will be a vast improvement. Gone will the soulless stadium and back will be the welcome return of banter on the terracing, and the chance for Cardiff Blues fans to really back their team once more.
What will be worrying for Cardiff Blues’ fans will be the quality of players that have been brought in to replace those that have left. Barr Jason Tovey coming in at fly half, there does not appear to be a great deal of improvement. A pack that had lost most of its experienced heads was also dealt another blow with the announced shock retirement due to injury of Xavier Rush. Whilst he’ll be a good addition to the coaching set up, the Cardiff Blues will miss his leadership up front.
It’s the forwards that will be the most pressing concern for this side. Already starting to struggle last season, and on the end of a few embarrassing score lines, the front row especially will be really up against it in the league this year.
For the Cardiff Blues it will be a season of re-building, a season for fixing their financial troubles and a season just to re-group and to see where it is they want to go as a region. Will they just focus mainly on the city itself, or will they keep trying what appears to be mission impossible, and try and win the Pontypridd fans over?
The Cardiff Blues do have the players to play good and exciting rugby. Sort out the defensive frailties of last season, and with their fans behind them, at home at least they should be a very, very tough side to beat. I don’t think that their forwards will cope enough to give them a strong enough platform to challenge for honours at the end of the season, but I think for the Cardiff Blues, to start re-building a squad with as many home grown players as possible, is the way forward. Get their fans fully back onside, and with the magical atmosphere at the Arm’s Park behind them, hopefully this season they will begin to make steps in the right direction.
My players to watch: Jason Tovey, Kristian Dacey, Andries Pretorius and Lloyd Williams