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The 'Welsh prop pride' Adam Jones felt seeing Cardiff vs Toulouse

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images)

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Ex-Wales tighthead Adam Jones plans to share a beer with Cardiff’s emergency Champions Cup props on Saturday at Harlequins after they courageously fronted up last weekend against European champions Toulouse. With 42 players remarkably unavailable through Covid quarantine, injury and suspension, the Welsh region turned to academy youngsters and semi-pros to enable them to fulfil the glamour fixture against the holders.

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Toulouse eventually went on to win 39-7 with Antoine Dupont, the recently crowned world player of the year, in unstoppable form running the show from scrum-half. However, Cardiff briefly led 7-6 at one stage and their scrum bravely found a way to survive despite coming under the cosh against a monster French pack. 

Will Davies-King, the 23-year-old who had just five previous Cardiff outings, was the starting tighthead, 30-year-old ex-Ospreys loosehead Rowan Jenkins from the Aberavon Wizards was the starting loosehead while there were regional debuts for Aberavon tighthead Geraint James and Cardiff Met loosehead Joe Cowel off the bench.

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The collective defiant effort greatly impressed Jones and the Harlequins scrum coach now intends to pass on his respect in person following this Saturday’s round two match against Cardiff at The Stoop. “It was brilliant. I have got nothing but respect,” enthused Jones, who spent last weekend in France coaching Harlequins to their narrow round one win over Castres.  

“I knew of Rowan Jenkins from back home, knew he had done great things at Aberavon and had been in and out of the Ospreys on occasion. You are not going to come up against those big boys [Toulouse] in the Premiership in Wales. I love the fact that they rose to it, fronted up and got stuck into Toulouse. 

“You could see there was a bit of verbal but there was no intimidation, you could tell they weren’t intimidated by them which was brilliant, and especially the boys who aren’t in the Cardiff squad, you hope they have now put themselves in the shop window so they can do it at this level and kick on with their careers. I am looking forward to going into the changing room on Saturday to give them all a beer and give them a pat on the back because at the end of the day they have done an amazing thing. They have played for Cardiff and had the balls to put themselves out there against the best team in Europe. It’s nothing but respect from me for them.”

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Asked what it must have been like for the Cardiff props during the match against Toulouse when the pressure came on and they had to find a way to survive, Jones likened it to boxer Rocky taking on Apollo Creed in the movies. “The fact that none of them would have played at that level, you have got nothing to fall back on experience-wise, they would have only trained against each other during the week. 

“It is not as if they have all been playing ten years… but when the scrum was marching backwards there were a few little nice cute things they did in the second half and certainly towards the end of the first half as well to buy a free-kick or an option which gave them a release. It was such a tough thing to do. 

“It’s like a professional boxer with just five fights having to fight Tyson Fury and when the s*** hits the fan they still come out swinging. It was a bit like Rocky against Apollo Creed in the original Rocky and they kept swinging until the end. That was the best thing to see. My connections are to Ospreys but there was definitely an element of Welsh prop pride about how those boys fronted up against a monster pack.”

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