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Wales team remains sober and focused at World Cup

Updated: October 10, 2011, 19:54


AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Wales has been hitting all the right notes in its behavior at the Rugby World Cup - unlike some other teams - with winger Shane Williams singing the squad's praises for choosing "choir practice'' over big nights out.

The boozy antics of several England players earlier in the tournament cast Martin Johnson's team in a bad light, and they were not the only ones to slip up, with New Zealand winger Cory Jane having to apologize for a drinking session only days before his team played Argentina in the quarterfinal.

Wales teams of the past may have been fond of a big night out, but this time it has been all about keeping a lid on late-night revelry and focusing intensely on preparation.

An intense pre-World Cup training program, coupled with a no-drinking policy, hammered that message home.

"It would have been a waste really to come to the World Cup and drink yourself silly. We've enjoyed meals together ... we've done some choir practice, that's for sure,'' Williams said ahead of Saturday's semifinal against France. "We knew we had a job to do out here, simple as that, really. You've got to train the next morning, front up and be ready for the game.

"It has been a balance obviously,'' he said. "We worked very hard prior to the World Cup, we tried to have a no-drinking policy, where we were away in Poland for two weeks. Toughest training I've ever done.''

While the team's self-imposed alcohol ban has been relaxed a little recently, the players and staff are fully aware of the need to be in complete control.

"One or two quiet beers after the game, but that's all they've been. We've been very focused on what's ahead the following week,'' Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins said. "We haven't got an awful lot of time to recover, there's a lot of short turnabouts. We had that from Fiji to Ireland.

"You've got to be on top of your game at this moment in time and in tiptop shape, both mentally and physically.''

At least one member of the Wales squad needs no reminding of what happens when social antics get out of hand.

In February, 2010, backrow forward Andy Powell was arrested in the early hours for drink-driving in a golf buggy near a motorway after celebrating a win against Scotland in the Six Nations Championship.

"We've got a few boys we've got to keep under wraps,'' big prop Gethin Jenkins said, letting out a laugh but naming no names.

"But no, it's a time and a place, isn't it? Like I said we enjoy ourselves as a squad but it just depends when you do it and where you do it,'' Jenkins said. "There was a bit of a curfew in place but I don't want to talk about it really, it was a sensible one and I just want to look forward to next weekend's game.

"Things have been quiet, but we are tight as a squad and we'll stick together and stick to the values we have.''

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