Wales whippersnapper Robinson getting used to holding the wooden spoon
21:37 GMT, 11 June 2012
As a man who can run the 100 metres in the blink of an eye, Harry Robinson is not used to the wooden spoon. But being the youngest member of a Welsh touring party comes with its traditions and hauling around a two-foot piece of wood is one of them.
The 19-year-old winger, who made a scoring debut against the Barbarians in Cardiff 10 days ago, had not even escaped baggage claim in Australia before his first knock-on.
‘I dropped it on the first day I had it,’ he said of the love spoon. ‘I had it on the top of my bag when I was wheeling it through the airport and it just slid off. One of the rings broke off so I think I’ll be getting a few fines for that. It was a terrible start but it hasn’t left my sight since. It’s locked away in my room, in the safe.
On the scoresheet: Harry Robinson goes over against the Barbarians
‘George (North) said it was stolen from him last year at the World Cup and he was missing it for three days. He said to keep your eyes glued on it. I didn’t want to ask how much he was fined, just in case!
‘I’ve been told the heritage about the spoon. They said I’ll probably have to give a speech or something at some point on this tour so I’m dreading that. But it’s got to be done!’
Robinson’s more pressing priority is to inflict damage of an intentional kind against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra this morning. After Wales’ defeat in the first Test against the Wallabies, this midweek audition suddenly bears a far greater significance for the starting XV who will be looking to impress ahead of selection decisions for the second Test in Melbourne.
When Wales faced the Brumbies on tour in 1996, the hosts inflicted what was at the time the second heaviest defeat in Wales’ history — a 69-30 thrashing. Rob Howley remembers it only too well. He scored two tries that night against a star-studded team but in reply Joe Roff scored four of the home side’s 10.
THE LOVE SPOON
Love spoons are said to represent the ‘heart and soul’ of Wales. They
were carved by men and given to women as early as the 17th Century. The
idea to bring one on tour was introduced by head coach Steve Hansen in
2003 and the three World Cup spoon bearers have been Huw Bennett (2003),
Alun-Wyn Jones (2007) and George North (2011). It depicts a dagger and
includes national symbols of Wales in a harp, dragon, daffodil and the
Prince of Wales’ feathers.
This year, the Brumbies have picked an inexperienced side who tend to sacrifice possession for territory by hoofing the ball and Robinson is hoping to pounce. But although he scored against Shane Williams at the Millennium Stadium on his debut, he realises rugby Down Under is a whole new experience.
‘We saw on Saturday the intensity the southern hemisphere teams play at,’ he said. ‘It’s a different level, they step up the game from the northern hemisphere. But we know what’s coming. We’ve done the analysis.
‘Anything in their half they don’t really like to play with, so as a back three we sat down for 15 minutes and talked about how we’re going to attack back and keep our wits about us.
‘Liam (Williams) is a great runner with the ball and Brewy’s (Aled Brew) is a powerful guy as well so we’ll look to use them kicking the ball to us as an advantage.’
Before Howley called up Robinson for the senior tour, the graduate from Pentrych RFC was packing his bags for another crack at the Junior World Cup in South Africa. On the day the senior side were ambushed by the Wallabies in Brisbane, his old team-mates beat the Baby Blacks, New Zealand’s Under 20 side who had never lost a match in the four-year history of the tournament.
‘I watched that game and I was a little bit gutted I wasn’t there because I wanted to celebrate with the boys,’ he said. ‘I welled up seeing them all celebrating together. I’ve been with most of them for four or five years now and that New Zealand team haven’t lost a game in four years. Just the determination, the heart and the pride they showed, it was amazing.’
Top form: Alex Cuthbert
Robinson is all too aware of the challenge ahead of him if he is to break into the Test team, with Alex Cuthbert and George North both in rampaging form.
HOW THEY LINE UP
ACT Brumbies: Coleman; Crawford, Kuridrani, Smith, Sitauti, Holmes,
Prior; Murphy, Hegarty, Sio, Power, Hand, Kimlin, Vaea, Fainga’a.
Substitutes: Siliva, Pradaud, Sigg, Auelua, Mokoputo, Cox, Mogg.
Liam Williams; Robinson, Bishop, Beck, Brew; Hook, Webb; James,
Hibbard, Jones, AW Jones (capt), Charteris, Turnbull, Tipuric, Shingler.
Substitutes: Owens, Gill, Evans, Delve, Lloyd Williams, Priestland, Cuthbert.
KO: 10.30am, Canberra Stadium.
Referee: Ian Smith (Aus).
‘I’ve got my work cut out trying to get that jersey,’ he said. ‘It’s a really competitive position. Cuthbert’s only come through this season and he’s an astonishing player.
He’s 6ft 4in, 105 kilos and still that fast — a real force to be reckoned with. George is the same, a massive beast.
‘Even though he was only on for half an hour on Saturday, the impact that he made spinning out of and breaking tackles, if he was on the whole game who knows what could have happened.
‘Even guys not in the squad yet, Eli Walker coming through for the 20s, he’s a quality player. George is 20, Cuthbert’s 22, I’m 19, Eli’s 20. It’s a really competitive position.’