BBC Wales Sport's pick of the summer highlights

It was delight in the June rain for Gareth Bale and the Wales fans as Belgium were beaten in Cardiff
It was delight in the June rain for Gareth Bale and the Wales fans as Belgium were beaten in Cardiff

It's the first full working week after the school holidays, and it has been another busy summer of sport, with plenty of action on the field of play and lots of talking points off it.

BBC Sport Wales rounds up the stories that caught everyone's attention which you may have missed.


Pride of place goes to the Wales football team, who under manager Chris Coleman have reached new heights.

With a one-point lead at the top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group B and one more point needed from their two remaining games, Wales are looking good to reach their first major finals since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

After beating Cyprus 1-0 in Nicosia, Wales could have wrapped things up in Cardiff by beating Israel.

A 0-0 draw left Coleman's side frustratingly not yet mathematically certain to qualify, but one more point from their final two games against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Andorra is all that is required.

Wales draw

Wales are unbeaten in this campaign and that run saw them enter the top 10 of Fifa's world rankings for the first time and become one of the top seeds for the 2018 World Cup draw.

The progress made under Coleman has drawn plenty of praise, especially from former boss Mark Hughes who hailed the "huge" achievement of becoming a top seed - something he never experienced as either a player or manager.

July's draw in St Petersburg, Russia, saw Wales paired in Group D alongside Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Moldova and Georgia.

Coleman was pleased with the draw, especially as Wales dodged the former World Cup winners France and Italy lurking in pot two.

Our own football correspondent, Rob Phillips, concurred with Coleman's assessment and believes that Wales can flourish in their group - while it is also possible Rob will appreciate some good Austrian strudel and Irish stout while he covers the national team's away games!

Gareth Bale shines, this time at golf

Gareth Bale has been the spearhead for Wales' campaign but it has not been all hard work for the Real Madrid forward.

The world's most expensive player managed a round of golf in the company of Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards at a pro-celebrity tournament at 2010 Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor - and there were some impressive touches from the talented twosome.

At club level the fate of Swansea forward Michu gathered plenty of attention, despite the Spain international not having played for the Premier League side for more than a year.

The 29-year-old endured an injury-wrecked campaign while on loan at Italian club Napoli last season and Swans boss Garry Monk said he does not think that Michu will play for them again.

Michu was a £2m signing from Rayo Vallecano in July 2012 - becoming an instant hit by scoring 22 goals in 43 games in his first season at the Liberty Stadium - and has a year remaining on his contract.

His future is still undecided but Rayo and Spanish rivals Granada have both confirmed their interest in the once-capped player.

Cardiff City were also catching off-field headlines, as the Football Association ruled that the Championship club's former manager Malky Mackay and head of recruitment Iain Moody would face no action over allegations they shared racist and sexist texts.

Text messages allegedly shared by Moody and Mackay (as reported in Daily Mail)
"Go on, fat Phil. Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers" - On football agent Phil Smith.
"He's a snake, a gay snake. Not to be trusted" - Referring to an official at another club.
"Not many white faces amongst that lot but worth considering" - Referring to a list of potential signings.

Former Wigan, Blackburn and Reading striker Jason Roberts was unhappy with the decision, saying it sent "a shocking message to football and, more worryingly, to wider society".

The FA said it had spoken to Mackay and Moody about the "inappropriateness of terms used in the messages" following an 11-month investigation that involved 27 witnesses.

Mackay, who was sacked by Cardiff before the revelations, apologised for sending offensive text messages, which came to light in August 2014, but denied he was racist, sexist, homophobic or anti-Semitic.


The focus on Wales' World Cup preparations had been on selections and results until their final warm-up game against Italy.

Rhys Webb
Rhys Webb is treated on the field before being taken off

Warren Gatland's side managed a 23-19 win, but the lacklustre performance paled into insignificance for the coach as he saw two of his key men suffer injuries that threaten their World Cup participation.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb, 26, suffered ankle damage in the first half at the Millennium Stadium, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny was also carried off with an injury to his right knee.

Webb has established himself as Wales' leading half-back, while 26-year-old Halfpenny is their main goal-kicker and the loss of either man would be a huge blow to Wales' hopes.

Gatland's side begin their campaign on 20 September against Uruguay, with group games against England and Australia - and not forgetting Fiji, Wales' conquerors at the 2007 World Cup - following that opener.

During the summer training camps, the coach's patience seems to have been tested by the distraction provided by speculation over Taulupe Faletau's future.

The British and Irish Lions number eight has a year left on his contract with Welsh region Newport Gwent Dragons, but that has not prevented English Premiership side Bath making overtures.

Taulupe Faletau

But with Gatland's ability to select players based outside of Wales limited by the Rugby Services Agreement, the coach suggested he would not sanction any move by the 24-year-old.

Former Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney, who until recently played over the border for Exeter Chiefs, was only too aware of the reasons why Welsh players are tempted to spread their wings.

However, Sweeney, who won 35 caps for Wales, believes that "Wales are putting him [Faletau] under a bit of pressure to stay".

Like Sweeney, former Wales back-row Colin Charvis has strong links with Dragons and has coached Faletau at Rodney Parade.

But BBC Wales Sport's World Cup columnist, who won 94 caps for his country and scored 22 tries, believes that Faletau could benefit from moving to the likes of Bath so that the number eight is playing a higher level of rugby "week in week out".

Sir Stanley Thomas' vision for Merthyr RFC

Elsewhere in the world of Welsh rugby, something was stirring in the lower divisions of the domestic game as Merthyr RFC flexed its new financial muscle.

Backed by multi-millionaire Sir Stanley Thomas, the ambitious Welsh Championship club is aiming this coming season to secure promotion to the semi-professional Welsh Premiership.

Merthyr Tydfil has a reputation of being one of the more deprived areas of south Wales and its public image was not helped by being the subject of the Skint television documentary about life on the breadline in the town.

Sir Stanley is hoping the rugby club will help play a part in revitalising his home town, and their recruitment drive has attracted headlines with former Wales forward Andy Powell signing on.


A season that began promisingly for Glamorgan faded away as they missed out on the knock-out stages of the limited over competitions and saw their Championship promotion hopes fade away.

But unfortunately the Welsh county garnered most attention for the state of the pitch at the Swalec Stadium.

A One-Day Cup match against Hampshire at the beginning of August had to be abandoned because of safety fears after several batsmen were hit by rising deliveries.

Jimmy Adams (left) and Michael Hogan (right)
Glamorgan's Michael Hogan (right) looks on after his ball hits Hampshire's Jimmy Adams (left).

Glamorgan chief executive Hugh Morris said the issue over the pitch was 'embarrassing', while his distress continued as Glamorgan had to wait for the England and Wales Cricket Board to carry out an investigation.

The verdict eventually arrived as Glamorgan were fined £9,000 - of which £5,000 is suspended - and docked two points for an "unfit pitch".

The fall-out continued as Glamorgan parted company with head groundsman Keith Exton, who earlier in the season had prepared the pitch in Cardiff that saw England beat Australia in a thrilling opening Test of the summer's Ashes series.


Wales entered the World Cup eager to make their mark in Australia and made a fine start to the tournament, topping their initial pool with a clean sweep of wins over Fiji, Zambia and Uganda.

As well as enjoying their victories, the Wales squad relished the atmosphere of being part of such a major competition - which saw the crowds turn out in force down under - and their behind the scenes video diaries for BBC Wales reflected that.

Wales' Netball World Cup 2015 diary

After qualifying for one of the top second stage pools, Wales found themselves pitched against hosts, favourites and eventual winners Australia, plus England and South Africa.

That proved a step too far for Trish Wilcox's side, who lost all three of those encounters, then to Malawi in the first placing match.

Wales still finished on a high though, as they faced Uganda again in a seventh-eighth place play-off - winning 64-41 in Sydney to equal their highest World Cup placing gained 24 years previously.

Seventh place was also one spot above Wales' world ranking going into the tournament and Wilcox was pleased with a "fantastic finish" from her side.


Another athlete who can look back with pride on her summer's work is Jazz Carlin, who at last claimed an elusive individual World Championships medal in Kazan, Russia.

Jazz Carlin is the Commonwealth and European champion at 800m
Jazz Carlin is the Commonwealth and European champion at 800m

The week had not started well for the 24-year-old Welsh swimmer, who had finished fourth in the 400m freestyle on the opening night - just as she had in Barcelona two years previously.

But Carlin ended what she termed "a rollercoaster week" on a high after taking bronze in the 800m freestyle.

Carlin finished less than a second behind silver medallist Lauren Boyle of New Zealand in a race won by American Katie Ledecky, who took gold in a new world record of eight minutes 7.39 seconds - knocking a huge four seconds off her own previous mark.

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