Rob Howley has backed Gareth Anscombe’s view that Wales’ disputed try at Twickenham – now officially declared a TMO error by World Rugby – did not decide the outcome.
Howley spoke at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon where he was anxious to underline that Warren Gatland had made a correct judgement last Saturday when he described New Zealander Glenn Newman’s video call as a “terrible mistake”.
But the assistant coach was equally as keen to stress he agreed with Anscombe’s view that the decision robbed Wales of momentum, but not victory.
Speaking about last Saturday’s 12-6 Six Nations defeat, Howley said: “It was good to have dialogue with World Rugby over the weekend. They’ve confirmed the TMO made a mistake.
“That dialogue happens throughout international periods. That phone call took place yesterday and Alain Rolland (head of referees) confirmed on behalf of World Rugby that it was a mistake.
“It’s happened, it’s disappointing that happens in pro sport. We now focus on the next two weeks.
“But there was plenty of time left after the decision. There were opportunities we should have taken. In the first-half, we didn’t have a rhythm to our game.
“The conditions were difficult and they improved in the second half. The way we reacted to get back into the game, we showed intent and ambition but we came up short.
“It’s just a shame that, in the first 25 minutes, England squeezed us from a kicking perspective.
We lost out in the aerial battle and that’s been a strength of ours.”
A World Rugby spokesperson had earlier confirmed: “World Rugby has clarified to the Wales team management as part of the usual review process with teams that the TMO made an error in the application of law during the England versus Wales match at Twickenham.
“In accordance with law 21.1 b Wales should have been awarded a try as the Wales player grounded the ball.”
Leigh Halfpenny, Taulupe Faletau,, Liam Williams could all be fit for next week’s third round of the tournament when Wales face Ireland in Dublin.
Wales drew 16-16 two years ago, before beating Ireland in Cardiff last year – the last time the Irish lost a Test.
Howley added: “We know we can compete with them. The recent results against them prove that.
“A lot of our players are familiar with them and we go there with a great chance of putting them under pressure.
“I love going to Dublin. The players enjoy it and you’re up against one of the best sides in the world. They’re well led at half-back. It’s something to look forward to.
“To come away with a bonus point at Twickenham, having been 12-0 down, was hugely important. It keeps us in the mix.
“We’ve got two home games and that sets us up.”
Asked whether he regretted not switching the starting positions of Rhys Patchell and Gareth Anscombe – so that Patchell would have started at No.15 with Anscombe at No.10 – Howley added: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
“The challenges they face in the game, the aerial battle and the kicking game, were huge. Because of the conditions, there were 74 kicks in the game.
“I don’t think you could tell on TV how difficult the weather was. Their wingers got positive reward from their kicking game and Owen Farrell played his part in putting us under pressure.”