So Wales's big adventure has finally come to an end at the Rugby World Cup. Somehow they seem to have achieved far more than their fourth place suggests. What was their award for losing this morning's bronze medal play off against Australia?
To slip below Ireland in the world rankings - oddly! Did we go over the top in the cold light of day? On the one hand they were wonderful in defeat to South Africa in the pool game, wonderful in the manner they beat Ireland in the quarter-final, and wonderful in the way they went down fighting in the semi-final to France one man down for over three-quarters of the match.
On the other hand they should have beaten the Springboks but kicks let them down, they should have beaten France but fell to the same reason, and they should have beaten the Wallabies but for the reoccurring theme. Played 7, lost 3 does not seem so good. Whichever way you look at it, though, Wales appear to have the brightest immediate future out of the home nations. With the likes of captain Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, George North, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Priestland all the right side of 25 they will only be stronger and better in the next year or two, but with the coming of new blood sees the ending of old.
And so it is farewell to Shane Williams, after 86 caps and a staggering 57 tries, and also farewell to Stephen Jones, after an amazing 105 caps and just a few points shy of 1,000 international points. There's still a chance that both could play as a thank you and farewell performance for Wales when they take on Australia in Cardiff in December in a post-World Cup friendly, but today was, more or less it for both of them.
Williams will retire, and Jones may consider it, especially as both Priestland and James Hook appear to be ahead of him in the pecking order. Both are admirable men. Williams once wrote a piece in my son's school rugby tour brochure. Jones helped prganise a trip to Llanelli where I joined in a training session - and got smashed, something he reminds me about to this day. They have been wonderful players, and wonderful ambassadors, and the game will be eternally grateful to them.