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Some time soon, Welsh rugby will realise what it has had and what it has lost. Not this World Cup campaign and this latest heartbreaking near-miss, but the coach and captain at the heart of it.
Warren Gatland and Alun Wyn Jones have carried a country in its favourite sport. They are two giants of the game, once-in-a-lifetime assets to the Welsh cause. One is an outsider who has been warmly embraced, the other a homegrown hero who is adored and revered.
One is leaving his post in a week to return to New Zealand, the other will return to domestic duties and keep soldiering on, but surely without another World Cup in him, at the age of 34.
South Africa are through to the Rugby World Cup final after narrowly beating Wales in their semi-final on Sunday
The Springboks players embrace at the full-time whistle after coming through a ferocious test against the Welsh
Handre Pollard kicks the winning penalty as South Africa booked their place in the Rugby World Cup final against England
Damian de Allende scored the first try of the game when he went past two Welsh defenders after a length South Africa attack
De Allende is congratulated by his team-mates after finally making the breakthrough following a nervy opening hour
Wales hit back almost straight away though when Josh Adams continued his try-scoring run at this tournament with another
Adams is embraced by Rhys Patchell after touching down to help level up the match with around 15 minutes to play
Wales will now go on to play against New Zealand in the third-place play-off in Warren Gatland’s final match in charge
Wales:Halfpenny; North (Watkin), J Davies, Parkes, Adams; Biggar (Patchell), G Davies (Williams); Wyn Jones (Carre), Owens (Dee), Francis (Lewis), Ball (Beard), Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Wainwright (Shingler), Moriarty, Tipuric.
South Africa:Le Roux (Steyn); Nkosi, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Mtawarira (Kitshoff), Mbonambi (Marx), Malherbe (Koch), Etzebeth (Snyman), De Jager (Mostert), Kolisi (Louw), Du Toit, Vermeulen.
There can be no doubt that without Gatland the Midas-touch head coach and Jones the talismanic captain, Wales would not have had the era they have just enjoyed. A small nation with limited resources have punched way above their weight thanks in large part to the remarkable w
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