The Rugby World Cup pool stages came to a close last weekend, finishing on a high note with the superb game between Japan and Scotland, especially poignant after the fatal Typhoon Hagibis.
Throughout the three weeks of action there was plenty of current and former Cardiff Blues players and action, so let’s see how they got on out in the Far East.
It’s been an excellent pool stage for Warren Gatland’s men, who have won all four pool games for the first time ever, the only team to do that courtesy of some postponements over the final weekend.
The notable performance has been new Cardiff Blues winger Josh Adams, who has started every game, scoring five tries and joint-topping the tournament try scorers list.
Josh Navidi has also featured heavily, only being rested for the win over Uruguay, while Tomos Williams has made a strong impact off the bench in all four games and Dillon Lewis has largely joined him as an impact player, starting against the South Americans.
Hallam Amos has been unlucky, only playing against Uruguay and managing to avoid scoring three times thanks to two forward passes and a handling error while extravagantly diving for the corner.
There’s been some mixed experiences for former Cardiff Blues players in the squad, with Cory Hill sent home after being unable to recover from a broken leg in time but Rhys Carre managing to secure a spot on the bench ahead of Nicky Smith against Fiji and Uruguay.
Rhys Patchell has been very capable, stepping in for Dan Biggar when called upon, especially against Australia when he came off the bench early on, while Leigh Halfpenny was very solid against Uruguay.
Bradley Davies has been added to the squad, replacing the injured Hill, and put in a powerful showing in the final pool game, captaining the side for the last 10 minutes.
It was a thoroughly disappointing World Cup for Rey Lee-Lo, who only featured in the first Manu Samoa game against Russia.
While he did grab a try, he was also yellow carded for a high tackle during the encounter, and was subsequently cited for the hit that earned him a three-game suspension.
Former Cardiff Blues scrum-half Pele Cowley and Nick Williams’ brother Tim Nanai-Williams both featured for Samoa, but neither could stop them crashing out at the pool stage.
There was different disappointment for the USA Eagles, as although Blaine Scully and Cam Dolan played in every pool game, they could not quite get the win their hard work deserved.
Former Cardiff Blues winger and USA captain Scully managed to bag himself two tries and led the side admirably, but it just wasn’t to be on this occasion in a tough group featuring England, Argentina and France.
There was just the one outing for Joaquin Tuculet in the pool stage, as he started against the USA, but he didn’t waste it with two tries for the full-back in a win.
Former Cardiff Blues prop Campese Ma’afu played in all four games in the pool stage, starting against Georgia, Australia and Wales, and coming off the bench against Uruguay.
Unfortunately they were not able to threaten the top two in a disappointing campaign, leaving Ma’afu to finish his 61-cap international career on a slightly sour note.
Cardiff Blues Academy Manager Gruff Rees looked after the Canada attack for the World Cup, working under former Dragons coach Kingsley Jones, but it didn’t go quite to plan.
While Canada didn’t score the least tries in the tournament, scoring two to Russia’s one, they did score the least points with 14 across four games, finishing bottom of Pool B.
There were two former Cardiff Blues coaches leading Namibia, with Phil Davies in charge and Dale McIntosh looking after the defence.
Unfortunately it was a tough campaign for the African side, only finishing above Canada on points difference, conceding two fewer points to avoid being the worst defence in the tournament.