History Being Made
Last night thousands of people witnessed one of, if not the greatest comebacks in Six Nations history.The Welsh fans who travelled to Stade Francais to watch our boys may have witnessed a bit of a small miracle.
The first half was awful to be fair, Wales looked rusty and like a team that hadn’t played for a few months together. There were more knock-ons in the first half than I’ve had Sunday dinners, it seemed like everything was against us.
We’ve all heard of the luck of the Irish, well I think the French may have borrowed some of it.
First Half Horrors
In atrocious weather, the French were able to keep hold of the ball and play a little bit, scoring two tries through Louis Picamoles and Yohan Huget.
Wales on the other hand were unable to build any form of attack as they just couldn’t keep hold of the ball, making eight handling errors to France’ one during the first forty.
Some lightweight defence from Anscombe allowed Picamoles over the line and Huget got over the whitewash for his try when George North got sucked in on defensive duty.
However, France were not as good as you might think, they were performed better than Wales, though and managed to string a few attacking phases and offloads together.
The French rolled up with a huge front eight, Wales held there own for the most part in the physical battle in open play and come scrum time.
There was a glimmer of hope in Liam Williams’ scything break through the French defence, but Williams failed to pass to Jonathan Davies on his outside and went for the line himself which he grounded.
It looked like a perfectly good try but was adjudged to have been knocked on after referee, Wayne Barns saw replays on the big screen and decided to review the act of scoring while Anscombe set up for the conversion.
All in all, the first half was one for Wales to forget. Learn from the mistakes as the old cliché goes. They needed to come out for the second half more focussed with more emphasis on respecting possession.
It really did look quite ominous at 16-0 down, was it possible for Wales to come back from such a hefty deficit?
The Miracle Comeback
After the half-time oranges and what must have been one hell of a talking to from coach Warren Gatland, Wales came out of the changing rooms a different team.
It was almost biblical and reminiscent of Lazarus of the old bible story, Wales’ defence, attack, power and skill had been resurrected. At least they didn’t have to wait four days like Lazarus.
By the 52nd minute mark, Wales had scored two tries and were well back in the game.
Huget, the hero in the first half with his try, became the zero as he embarrassingly fumbled the ball on his try line with the predator like, George North pouncing from close range for his first try.
North’s second came from an interception as a French attack threatened, going almost the length of the pitch, cruising to the try line. It proved to be the winning score in the end.
The second half saw Wales comeback from 16-0 down and staring down the barrel, it took huge determination and character to come back from that.
How many times have Wales been in that position and crumble? How many times have we seen our national side wilt away under the pressure? Too many if truth be told.
But this performance, although no the best we’ve ever seen, the fact they did it whilst not playing their best, shows how far this team has come and the character within the squad.
Eighty Minute Patriots
It’s a strange phenomenon in Wales that most people become the most vociferous patriotic bunch during a Wales rugby game.
And I ask myself why can’t the people of Wales be just as patriotic the rest of the time? I think there’s a multitude of reasons behind that question rather than purely political apathy.
It’s just plain odd to see hundreds of thousands of mad Taff’s and Gog’s alike showing their pride in their nation during Mae Hên Wlad Fy Nhadau. But then show ambivalence outside of the sporting arena.
The phrase “Eighty-minute patriot” should be something we’re ashamed of rather than something that’s accepted as the norm.
How many times have you heard or even uttered the equally cringey “I’m proud to be Welsh, but…”?
It’s an attitude that infects us Welsh that needs remedying.
Leading by Example
If there’s on thing we can learn from last night’s performance by Wales was our ability to punch above our weight.
The rugby boys and indeed the football boys consistently go above what’s expected and produce the goods to not just rattle the opposition but to beat them.
And lets also not forget the women to.They show us what can be achieved even with limited recourses, money and people, and the same principle can be applied to the nation, and not only in a sporting context.
Wales can be more than the sum of its parts. No! Wales is more than the sum of its parts.
We can achieve good things when we invest what we have in ourselves.
We just need to believe in Wales as a nation and as a people.
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.