Carys Cox Wales

Carys Cox Wales. Pic: Getty Images

Carys Cox Ready To Help Underdogs Wales Bite The French

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By David Parsons

You have to go back eight games to 2016 for the last time Wales managed to beat France in Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

That famous 10-8 victory came courtesy of tries from Dyddgu Hywel and Megan York at The Gnoll, in Neath, and steered Rachel Taylor’s side to a fourth place finish in that year’s championship.

Current Wales skipper Hannah Jones was in that team, along with co-centre Kerin Lake, scrum half Keira Bevan, flanker Alisha Butchers and hooker Carys Phillips. Eight years on, they would love a repeat of that performance.

It will be a tough ask at the Arms Park on Sunday against a French side with three wins already under their belt. By contrast, Jones’ side are battling against a fourth successive defeat after losing to Scotland, England and Ireland.

But despite those defeats, new Wales wing Carys Cox believes all is not lost. One of the players to emerge from the most recent defeat against Ireland in Cork with some credit, the long-striding Ealing Trailfinders three-quarter is looking forward to finishing the tournament strongly at home both this weekend and next, when they face Italy at Principality Stadium.

Cox made her Wales debut against USA last year having switched allegiance from England, who she represented at Under 20 level, to play for the land of her father. She made her Six Nations debut as a replacement against Scotland and started against England and Ireland.

“We’re still hurting a lot and disappointed about the performance we put out in Ireland. It’s not the end of the tournament for us because we have two games left to play,” said Cox.

“It was an uncharacteristic performance against the Irish. We aren’t worried because we have such a talented group of girls – we just have to find a way to click.

“England was one of our better performances of late, we had some chances and we were pleased with that, but something just didn’t click on the day in Ireland. But we have to realise that every women’s team is growing now.

“They are all following a professional pathway and some are growing at a different rate. We can’t underestimate any team.

“It’s great for the sport and the aim is that every team in the world improves. But we also need to keep on growing.”

This weekend’s task will see Cox and co take on a French team that is hoping to stay on track for a Grand Slam showdown with England, who are also unbeaten and are leading by one point, in Round 5. They have beaten Ireland 38-17, with five tries, Scotland 15-5 with two, and Italy 38-15 with half-a-dozen.

“We can’t allow what happened against Italy to happen against Wales, and we have to play the first and second halves in the same way,” said French second row Madoussou Fall, who scored her side’s final try in a game in which the Italians won the second half 15-12 after leading 26-0 at the break.

“You need to keep doing the same things and not go into your shell, or you will regress. Even if the team fatigues a little, we need the finishers to bring us closer to the intensity and physicality we need.

“We are improving though and developing our understanding of what we need to do. I played against Wales in Cardiff two years ago, and it is a really memorable match.

“The supporters are really close to you, and they try to play with the ball as much as they can which the supporters like. They aren’t regressing.

“They’ve improved over the last few years, and they just need to correct one or two things. We will have to improve our levels from last week and focus on what we are doing, not what our opponents are doing.”

It was six tries to two for the French in their 39-14 win in Grenoble in last year’s championship. After the defeat in Cork last time out, Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham has asked his side to go back to what they do best to avoid a similar championship whitewash to their male counterparts.

“Ioan has tasked us to go back to doing what we are historically good at as a Welsh team. When we’ve been in this position in the past, with our backs against the wall, we have produced some of our best rugby and we can take confidence from that,” added Cox.

“We’re stripping things back, looking to enjoy our rugby, getting clarity, being clinical and hopefully coming out on top. It’s only going to take one day of every individual in the team performing at their best for us to get the win that will give us momentum.

“We’ll be the underdogs going into this weekend but we feel if we can play to our best it can be a very competitive game. We are hoping to get as much as we possibly can out of these final two games and to put in performances of which we can be proud.”

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