Friday, 21 February 2014
Both Wales and France had a lot to prove in their meeting at the Millennium Stadium in Caerdydd earlier this evening. Wales had played pretty terribly against Ireland two weeks ago, when they were well and truly beaten and gave little to hope for in their remaining games of the championship. France beat Italy, but unconvincingly, playing well for little more than 15 of the ninety minutes.
Still, I honestly didn't think that Wales would be able to improve sufficiently to offer much of a challenge to even a relatively poor France.
Was I mistaken!
France was basically outplayed for the whole of the ninety minutes. Even during France's best attacking moments, just about all of which came in the second half, Wales put up a sterling and effective defence, disrupting the French and often leading to indiscipline.
The Welsh lineout was better than it has been so far in the series, the passing was better, the scrummaging was shocking on both sides, but that's more to do with modern scrum laws than anything else.
Now if only Wales would learn not to kick unnecessarily, thereby giving the ball to the opposition in good running positions, and if they continue to play decent rugby, they might even have a chance of a decent final position in the championship: four wins out of five is a good possibility now and that might be enough to take the championship yet again—much will depend on how other teams perform (I don't look forward to England beating Ireland, but at this stage I wouldn't mind if Ireland loses!).
As for France: sortez la guillotine! French players must learn to accept the decisions of the match officials: this is not soccer, so you do not argue with the referee or linesmen, nor do you disdainfully applaud the referee for sending sinbinning you. Not just yellow cards, but red cards should have been shown.