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Andrew Abbott – Cardiff Blues Preview

Guinness PRO12 Editor

2 Aug 2012


Andrew is 42 and has been a fan of Cardiff RCF/Cardiff Blues for over 30 years. He was an regular contributor to the BBC 606 blogging site for several years before it was shut down. the name of his Blog is The Big Mouth Blues Fan. You can hear him two blocks away at the Arms Park. His best rugby moment was appearing on page 3 of the Western Mail after Wales vs Scotland in Murrayfield 5 years ago, reading a book before the game.

With the pre-season games about to kick off, the cold turkey symptoms of rugby withdrawal reach a fever pitch. How will your favourite team fare, how will the new arrivals gel and what impact will the loss of players who have left have. After another Grand Slam for Wales, the Ospreys winning the RaboDirect PRO12 and coming close to beating Australia in three tests this summer Welsh rugby is in transition at regional level. The salary cap has seen some teams lose their more expensive, elder statesmen to cut the costs of their squads. The Cardiff Blues have lost 16 players in the off season to retirement or other clubs.

Leading the exodus were Gethin Jenkins and Casey Laulala to pastures new, in the process cutting the squads cost dramatically. The squad has a very young look this season and new coach, Phil Davies, has a challenge melding the youth and the remaining experience together to form a team that can win silverware this season. Players like Jason Tovey, Campese Ma’afu, and Benoit Bourrust will need to hit the ground running especially after the blues board took the decision to return to the Arms Park this season. The move back has been extremely popular with fans and the players and both need to turn the Park into a fortress that teams will not relish coming to.

With new rule changes coming this season for the breakdown area and a Lions tour to Australia beckoning in the summer, this season promises to have many sub plots as the year goes on. How will Wales handle the favourites tag for the 6 Nations without Gatland at the helm? Will an Irish side win the Heineken Cup again? Will the English and French sides really walk away from the tournament? As Olympic fever dies down so the rugby fever will begin to increase as the first weekend approaches. Like a player waiting for the first hit in the game, the fans of Rugby are waiting with increasing interest for that first whistle at the end of August that signals the end of the summer sports and the beginning of the oval ball season.

Best addition to your side? – Jason Tovey
Opening day prediction? – Blues to win in Connacht
Overall season prediction for your side? – top 6 league finish and a quarter final of the HEC
Other predictions? – Leinster to win the HEC
Who's going to win the RaboDirect PRO12? – Fancy Ulster to take it this season.