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The forgotten Welshman battling to make Warren Gatland's RWC plans

By Simon Thomas
Lyons Beka Saghinadze attempts to bring down Dragons Taine Basham during the EPCR Challenge Cup Group B match at Rodney Parade, Newport. Picture date: Saturday December 17, 2021. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Taine Basham is the first to admit his outlook on life has changed completely since becoming a dad. His partner, Giovanna, gave birth to a baby boy in December, with little Tomas now four months old.


It’s put everything in a new perspective for the Dragons back row forward, including the ups and downs of the past couple of years on the rugby front.

He was Wales’ stand-out performer during the Autumn Internationals in 2021 and carried that form into the start of the 2022 Six Nations.

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But then the last 12 months has brought him just the one outing off the bench at Test level, amid an untimely elbow dislocation.

Now though he is fit and firing again and looking forward to Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship derby away to the Ospreys as he aims to force his way back into the Wales reckoning ahead of the World Cup.

While rugby ambition continues to drive him on, there’s a different balance to his life now as he comes to terms with fatherhood.

“It’s a whirlwind at the start. You go from having the two of you to coming home from the hospital with the three of you,” he says.


“I was going through my rehab from injury as well, so that was an interesting time, but I’ve kind of adapted to family life now and to less sleep!

“We have an agreement, me and my partner. On training days, I won’t get up as much in the night as she will. Then when I have time off, I am a bit more hands on.

“Giovanna has been good as gold. She has been the best mother to Tomas, so I am lucky there.”

The 23-year-old Basham continues: “Your outlook on life and your outlook on rugby as well completely changes.

Taine Basham
Taine Basham /PA

“When you are in your early 20s and playing for Wales, you really focus on yourself and your preparation. It’s all about you. When you’ve got a baby, you are focusing on how you are providing for your family.

“I am a young man and I’ve got to provide for my partner and my baby boy. So it’s a completely different outlook on life and the game really. It’s completely changed.”

Talywain-product Basham, who is now based in Cwmbran, is able to take a freshly philosophical approach to the fluctuating fortunes of life as a rugby player.

Those were well illustrated on last summer’s tour of South Africa with Wales, where he was a spectator during the historic victory over the Springboks in Bloemfontein, with his involvement limited to an outing as a replacement in the final Test defeat.

“It was very bitter sweet,” he admits. “I only really saw 20 minutes of game-time and I only had that due to Taulupe Faletau getting injured in the warm-up.

“We trained hard together and you are happy seeing your mates do well, but not being involved was a bit bitter sweet, like I say.”

Then came the further disappointment of suffering an elbow injury against Cardiff at the Arms Park in mid-October, ruling him out of the autumn internationals.

“I felt I was in a good run of form at the time,” he said. “I was in a good rhythm, I felt good physically and I was playing well.

“So it was disappointing then to get that injury. It kind of stopped me in my tracks.”

Basham returned to action with the Dragons in January, but missed out on the Six Nations squad amid intense competition for back row spots.

Now he’s aiming to send out a reminder to Warren Gatland by ending the season with a bang, starting with Saturday’s clash with the Ospreys at the Stadium.

Taine Basham
Taine Basham tackles Ollie Fox during an Under-19 Wales versus England match at Paarl Gymnasium in South Africa (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“Hopefully I can get back to my top form that I was in before and put my hand up to get into the World Cup squad,” he said.

“It all depends what Warren Gatland thinks is his best back row in his eyes. I have just got to put my head down, get back physically and get my hands on the ball.”

He has started in all three back row positions during his 11-cap Test career, offering a real versatility.

“No 7 is probably where I see myself. Obviously there is a lot of competition there, but that can only make you better,” he says. “The last few people who have played in the No 7 jersey for Wales have all got different qualities to offer.


“I am happy to play anywhere in the back row just to get back in that shirt. I am happy with 6, 7 or 8 if I am on the pitch. In terms of my attributes, I don’t think it changes for me.

“I like to get my hands on the ball, get my team-mates on the front foot and then in defence make some good reads and be dominant in that area.”

As for this weekend’s BKT URC Welsh derby, he adds: “It’s a big game. We know what’s coming from the Ospreys. They have got a very good pack, a good kicking game and some dangerous backs as well.
“But we are going down there optimistic. We have been training hard together during the Six Nations and hopefully we will go and do the job.”

Credit: URC


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finn 4 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

12 Go to comments
Simon 6 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

There are a few issues with the article. Despite somehow getting to a RWC semi final, England are nowhere near Probable status and should be swapped with Scotland on current form. France’s failure at RWC 23 has massively hit their mindset. Psychologically, they need a reset of gigantic proportions otherwise they will revert to, Top 14 first, international rugby an afterthought again. Ireland are allowed to play the way they are by less than acceptable officiating. Make no bones about it, with Easterby coaching, Ireland cheat, they break the rules at almost every facet of the game and generally referees, influenced by the media that Ireland are somehow playing the best rugby in the world, allow them. Scrums - Porter never pushes straight and immediately turns in. The flankers lose their binds and almost latch on to the opposition props. Rucks - they always and I mean always clear out from the side and take players out beyond the ball, effectively taking them out of being ready for the next phase. Not once do green shirts enter rucks from the rear foot. Referees should be made to look at the video of the game against Wales and see that Irish backs and forwards happily enter rucks from the side to effect a clearout, thus giving them the sub 3 second ruck speed everybody dreams about. They also stand in offside positions at rucks to ‘block’ opposing players from making clear tackles allowing the ball carrier to break the gainline almost every time. They then turn and are always ahead of play and therefore enter subsequent rucks illegally. Mauls - there is always a blocker between the ball catcher and the opposition. It is subtle but it is there. Gatland still needs to break the shackles and allow his team a bit more freedom to play rugby. He no longer has a team of 16 stone plus players who batter the gainline. He has to adapt and be more thoughtful in attack. Scotland are playing well but they have the creaky defence that leaks tries.

23 Go to comments
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