After the Wales v Ireland game on ther opening weekend, I was feeling pretty frustrated. It was such a Jekyll and Hyde performance with such a poor first half by Wales who then really took it to Ireland in the second 40 minutes.
Unfortunately, they’d left themselves too much to do, but it had made them go out and score tries and maybe they found their true game in the second half.
This Welsh team seem to be confidence-based and I think that gave them the injection of confidence to go forward in the tournament.
The real tipping point was definitely the game against France in Paris. To be under such pressure and then to put in an incredibly gutsy performance, especially in defence, really sent the confidence levels soaring.
The two subsequent clean sheets against Italy and Scotland then brought us to the Championship decider. There was an awful lot of media hot air about England before the game and I’m sure the desire to retain the trophy and show the rugby world that there were two teams who could win the tournament was another big motivating factor.
Like most people, I thought it was going to be a really close game with not much more than a score in it, but I was convinced that whichever team got off to the best start would win as the pressure to chase the game would be too much for the opposition.
In my years of watching rugby I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Wales team put in such an 80 minute performance as that – the skill levels, intensity and focus were excellent.
Even though the scoreline was pretty equal at half-time, their control of the match was incredible and a pleasure to watch. Two teams going toe to toe – a proper Test match.
I actually went down to Old Deer Park to watch the game with my wife, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. The club had a big screen up and there was a really good mix of English and Welsh supporters there, as well as a couple of adopted Welshmen for the day.
Our two French props – Franck Montanella and Arthur Joly – stood up and sung along to the Welsh National Anthem with me! A great day out, finished off with a couple of steaks and a few bottles of red wine. Perfect.
At the time of writing, the club have appealed against our points deduction by the RFU. However, as players, we can’t let ourselves get distracted by that. We just have to crack on and focus on what we can influence – our performance on the pitch – and just use it as an extra incentive for motivation.
That attitude served us well when it came to the Championship playoffs last season and I’m sure we can call on that spirit again.
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