Wales’ victory over Australia in Tokyo at the weekend was only their second in 12 games against Rugby Championship sides at the Rugby World Cup, but Neil Jenkins insists there are now more to come.
You had to go back to the bronze final of 1987 for the last time Wales had beaten one of the southern hemisphere giants, and that was also against the Wallabies. The 22-21 triumph in Rotorua was the first of seven clashes to date on the global stage against the Aussies and they now lead 5-2.
When you take into consideration all the results at the World Cup between Six Nations and Rugby Championship nations (Italy results from 2000 and Argentina since 2012) it makes for pretty grim reading.
The North has a mere 20% success rate when it matters most and the Welsh success rate is a little lower at 16.6%. The Scots and Italians have yet to post a win, the Irish are running at 14%, while the English and French are at 33.3%.
And to make matters worse, in the six World Cup finals that have featured teams from the two hemispheres, the South have come out on top five times – New Zealand beat France in 1987 and 2011, Australia beat England in 1991 and France in 1999, South Africa beat England in 2007. The only success for the North came with England’s extra-time triumph over Australia in 2003.
Wales assistant coach Jenkins played at the 1995 World Cup, where he lost to New Zealand, and was beaten by Australia at the tournament Wales hosted in 1999.
For the former Wales No.10, the weekend victory had been a long time coming, but the crucial elements were self-belief and the ability to take every chance on offer.
“On most occasions that we were in Australia’s half in the first-half on Sunday, we managed to come away with points,” said Jenkins.
“There were a couple of instances where we didn’t, but more often than not, we did.
“We gave ourselves a 23-8, 26-8 lead, which obviously proved in the end was critical for us to win the game.
“With a team as good as Australia, at some point you know they are going to come and come hard, and they did after about 45 minutes – they came very hard for about 25 minutes – but we managed to stay in front.
Now, Jenkins wants Wales to prove that taming the best the south has to offer is more than just a one-off occurrence.
“We have all been involved as players and now the guys involved in the coaching, we have all been lucky enough to win things over a period of time. Gats as well.
“He wants us to win trophies and he wants to be successful, but most of all he wants us to enjoy ourselves along the way. We are quite lucky in that regard.
“It’s the last World Cup for a lot of the guys as a group with Wales and we’d love to go out on a high.
“But there are a lot of other sides that want to do the same. We want to do as best we possibly can and put ourselves in a position of going as far as we possibly can.
“Sometimes it hasn’t quite gone our way. We have lost quite a lot of big games by either a try or kick at the end.
“Against Australia, for us to get over the line against them in the autumn was huge as we hadn’t beaten them for 13 games. We should have won six of them, but we didn’t.
“We lost in the last minute or by some sort of decision. The payers we have, the leaders we have on the pitch and off, the coaching staff as well, it’s been a good run for us and I’d like to think we can continue.”
The thrilling 29-25 win over Michael Cheika’s Wallabies not only bridged a 32-year gap between southern hemisphere wins by Wales at the World Cup, but also brought the Moriarty family success rate over Australia to five out of seven. Ross came on as a second half replacement in Tokyo to notch his second win, while both his father, Paul, and his uncle, Dick, were in the 1987 side.
Dick was captain on that occasion and also made his Wales debut against the men in gold, scoring a try in an 18-13 win in Cardiff in 1981.
As for the Wallabies, it must have been a strange feeling for veteran wing Adam Ashley-Cooper. In his previous 119 caps he had never been on the losing side in 13 matches against Wales.
His first defeat meant he was unable to surpass the record held by former team mate Stephen Moore and French centre Philippe Sella of 13 wins against Wales. They both won 13 of their 14 encounters, a record that Ashley-Cooper now matches.
It wasn’t the way the Aussies wanted to mark their 50th World Cup game, but was the perfect result for Welsh skipper Alun Wyn Jones to help him celebrate becoming the most capped Welsh player of all-time with his 130th appearance. His next game at the tournament will move him level with Gethin Jenkins’ Welsh record of 18 World Cup games.
Now at a record equalling fourth World Cup, he has played every minute of the 2019 tournament and has played the full 80 minutes in 11 of his 15 starts dating back to 2007. Given his level of commitment – he topped the tackle charts in the win over Australia with 23 – his physical conditioning defies belief.
He has joined an all-star cast of players who have held the Welsh cap record and he threatens to put it out of reach of anybody else if he carries on playing for a few more seasons. At present he has 130 games for Wales and nine Tests for the British & Irish Lions – nine appearances away from Richie McCaw’s world record of 148 caps for the All Blacks.
If he reaches that mark then he could rival Dicky Owen’s reign as Wales’ most capped player, a title he held for 43 years between 1912-1955, when Ken Jones overtook him.
Six Nations results against Rugby Championship teams at RWC. This includes results v Argentina since 2015 tournament after their inclusion in 2012 in the Rugby Championship.
North v South at RWC – P 55 W 11 L 44
England – P12 W4 L8
1987: Aus 19-7 L
1991: NZ 18-12 L; Aus 12-6 L
1995: Aus 25-22 W
1999: NZ 45-29 L; SA 44-21 L
2003: SA 25-6 W; Aus 20-17 W
2007: SA 36-0 L; Aus 12-10 W; SA 15-6 L
2015: Aus 33-13 L
France – P12 W4 L8
1987: Aus 30-24 W; NZ 29-9 L
1995: SA 19-15 L
1999: NZ 30-16 L; NZ 43-31 W; Aus 35-12 L
2003: NZ 40-13 L
2007: NZ 20-18 W
2011: NZ 37-17 L; NZ 8-5 L
2015: NZ 62-13 L
2019: Arg 23-21 W
Ireland – P7 W1 L6
1987: Aus 33-15 L
1991: Aus 19-18 L
1995: NZ 43-19 L
1999: Aus 23-3 L
2003: Aus 17-16 L
2011: Aus 15-6 W;
2015: Arg 43-20 L
Scotland – P9 W0 L9
1987: NZ 30-3 L
1991: NZ 13-6 L
1995: NZ 48-0 L
1999: SA 46-29 L; NZ 30-18 L
2003: Aus 33-16 L
2007: NZ 40-0 L
2015: SA 34-16 L; Aus 35-34 L
Wales – P12 W2 L10
1987: NZ 49-6 L; Aus 22-21 W
1991: Aus 38-3 L
1995: NZ 34-9 L
1999: Aus 24-9 L
2003: NZ 53-37 L
2007: Aus 32-20 L
2011: SA 17-16 L; Aus 21-18 L
2015: Aus 15-6 L; SA 23-19 L
2019: Aus 26-22 W
Italy – P3 W0 L3 (since joining Six Nations in 2000)
2003: NZ 70-7 L
2007: NZ 76-14 L
2011: Aus 32-6 L
WELSH RECORD CAP HOLDERS
Name Era Caps
Tom Clapp 1882-1888 14
Arthur Gould 1885-1897 27
Billy Bancroft 1890-1901 33
Dicky Owen 1901-1912 35
Ken Jones 1947-1957 44
Gareth Edwards 1967-1978 53
JPR Williams 1969-1981 55
Ieuan Evans 1987-1998 72
Neil Jenkins 1992-2002 87
Gareth Llewellyn 1989-2004 92
Gareth Thomas 1995-2007 100
Stephen Jones 1998-2011 104
Gethin Jenkins 2002-2016 129
Alun Wyn Jones 2006-2019 130 *
* Still playing