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Wayne Pivac Says Marler Mistake Cost Wales Chance Of Six Nations Title

Wayne Pivac has revealed Wales were left frustrated by the Joe Marler incident at Twickenham because they felt a deserved red card could have cost England their victory.

England prop Marler was due to appear at a disciplinary hearing on Thursday evening after being cited for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones by the genitals in their first half of last week’s 33-30 defeat for Pivac’s side.

But after naming his team to face Scotland on Saturday – where Jones will equal the world record of 148 Test caps – Pivac revealed the sense of injustice he and his squad feel over the much-debated incident.

“There’s no place for it in the game whether it’s banter or more serious,” said Pivac.

“We’re all role models for the next generation of players. There are rules in the game and you can’t go outside those rules.

“Alun Wyn’s frustration wasn’t with any organisation, it was the fact the matter wasn’t dealt with on the field at the time.

“The processes will take their due course. He was just frustrated that any sanction later on doesn’t change the game.

“What’s the sanction during the game? It could have been a red card, a different Test match and we’d be alive in the competition.

“Thousands of people saw the event at the time, barring the people who were looking at the video.”

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This season’s Six Nations will be adjourned after events in Cardiff due to the coronavirus outbreak, with three games outstanding – Ireland’s fixtures against Italy and France, plus England’s trip to Rome.

Wales will aim to avoid a fourth successive Six Nations defeat, which they have not experienced since Scotland, though, last won in the Welsh capital 18 years ago, suffering eight Six Nations reversals on the bounce.

Pivac added: “Saturday is a great opportunity for us to wrap up the campaign with a big performance at home in Cardiff.

“We want to finish with the performance we know we can deliver and we have been working hard to get there.”

On the threat of the game being postponed because of the spread of coronavirus, Pivac said Wales were preparing as normal.

“Our team manager is looking after the off-field scenario and dealing with our chief executive,” he said.

“We’re preparing for a game but we’re aware there are discussions going on at a higher level.

“There are people that make those decisions and we’ll follow those whichever way they go.”

The 34-year-old Jones’s 148th Test, a tally that includes nine for the British and Irish Lions, matches the figure set by New Zealand’s World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw between 2001 and 2015.

Pivac paid tribute to his skipper, saying: “Alun Wyn is one of the most iconic figures in the game, he is our leader and I am delighted for him as he continues to set the bar across the game.

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“You just need to speak to anybody he plays against, and they will tell you what it’s like to play against him. They hold him in high regard.

“I’ve seen first-hand what Alun Wyn does, not only on the field, but in terms of training and our environment, in terms of his leadership off the field. It’s just huge. He is the ultimate professional.

“Every country will have someone who they will say is the ultimate professional, and in Wales he is that guy. He’s world-class, no doubt about it.

“I’m full of praise for him and I’ve only worked with him a couple of weeks.

“Equalling the record will be a proud moment for him, and all being well, he will break that record and that will be an even prouder moment.”

Pivac has made four changes to the team beaten by England, calling up uncapped Sale Sharks prop WillGriff John, fellow front-rower Wyn Jones, lock Cory Hill and scrum-half Rhys Webb.

Hill, who makes his first Wales start since February last year, replaces Jake Ball after he suffered a shoulder injury in the England game and faces up to three months on the sidelines.

John, meanwhile, takes over from Dillon Lewis, Jones is in for Rob Evans and Webb is preferred to Tomos Williams.

Webb was unavailable for his country during his time with French club Toulon because he did not meet the Welsh Rugby Union’s minimum 60-cap eligibility rule for players plying their trade outside Wales.

He has not started a Test since November 2017, but after signing to rejoin the Ospreys next term he then gained a dispensation period to be available for the Six Nations and appeared off the bench against Italy and England.

John, meanwhile, is rewarded for consistent club form in the Gallagher Premiership, where he has helped Sale establish themselves as major title play-off contenders.

 

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