Wales coach Warren Gatland. Pic: Getty Images.

Warren Gatland Insists His Clutched Straws Can Be Used To Build A World Cup Shelter

By Paul Jones

Warren Gatland insists the straws he was left clutching after defeat in Paris can be used to build a World Cup revival.

Most Welsh fans were fearing the worst at the Stade de France, but the glint in the eye of Gatland post-match proved he finally felt he had got something positive out of his team at the fifth time of asking in this tournament, despite a 41-28 defeat. 

“I’m really proud of the effort the players put in. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I thought we showed some real character out there today,” said Wales coach Galtand, who made 27 changes over the course of the Six Nations and used 35 players. 

 “We tried to play some really positive rugby from the start. We got behind and then came back towards the end, and when we were 13 points down with 10 minutes to go, I thought if we scored again it was going to be a really interesting finish.  

“We’ve still got lots of things to work on, but as this tournament has gone on, we’ve improved. I’m really confident that by the time we get together for the World Cup we’ll be in good shape – and a lot better than we are at the moment.” 

Wales started brightly, taking the lead through a George North try, but they were largely blown away thereafter, as France scored five tries through wing Damian Penaud (two), inside-centre Jonathan Danty, tighthead Uini Atonio and outside-centre Gael Fickou.

France full-back Thomas Ramos also kicked flawlessly, landing all five conversions and two penalties at the Stade de France, while Wales did notch further tries when far back on the scoreboard through replacement hooker Bradley Roberts, replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams and wing Rio Dyer.

The victory temporarily moved France top of the Six Nations standings, only for Ireland to take the title and complete their fourth Grand Slam with a 29-16 victory over England in Dublin.

Therre was a hint of the old Wales under Gatland in his first term in charge. They turned down an easy three points and finally managed to convert their third driving line-out in the opening minutes into a try for George North, taking him out on his own as Wales’ leading try scorer in the tournament with 23.  

Having scored the first of the game’s nine tries, Rio Dyer then ran in the bonus-point score for the visitors in the final move of the match to ensure the visitors ended on a defiant note – and one that has given Gatland some hope for the future. 

“I think we’ll give a lot of teams a few surprises come World Cup time. It’s about the players making the right decisions, about them being brave and playing if they feel things are on,” added Gatland. 

“We went out today and we were positive. We could have taken three points, but we went for the corner and went for the seven points. That’s when we scored the first try with George North, which put France under a little bit of pressure.  

“It’s about us being positive and not rushing a few things. I was disappointed with Dan Biggar missing touch with a penalty, and then we had another turnover that cost us a bit.  

“But I think we will continue to get better, and I thought the bench had a much bigger impact than they had in previous games. Bradley Roberts missed his first throw but then scored a try; Dafydd Jenkins was great, and Tomos Williams made an impact when he came on.  

“I wanted to find out about a number of players, and I wanted to give some of the youngsters an opportunity. We feel they will have learned from those experiences, and they’ll continue to develop. 

“Some of the older players aren’t going to keep going forever. You saw that we made some changes quite early in the second half to get some fresh legs on, and that was positive.  

“There is a lot of work to do, but we’ve made some good improvements. We’re pretty excited and we talked in the changing room after the game about how we’ve improved and showed some real character today.  

“I just said to the players that if we do the work that is required, not just on fitness but on some skills and contact work, then I’m confident we’ll have a really positive World Cup.”  


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *