Wales defeated France in Paris on Saturday (9th of February) to register their first win at the Stade de France since 2005. Given Wales’ recent run of form (8 defeats in a row), it was a stunning and unexpected result. The score was 3-3 at halftime, and even with some 15 minutes to go was 6-6. Then, Wales broke the deadlock with a try by George North that really came from nowhere.
It was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination. Wales showed a steel and determination which has been absent in their last several games and they looked more like the Grand Slam winning team of last season. When they went 10 points up with some 8 minutes to go I was pleased to see them keeping to a tight game, not trying to throw the ball around and play some entertaining rugby. We’ve lost too many tight games in the last 8 months by not shutting down the game when ahead with only minutes left on the clock.
One of the great fascinations of sport is how much of it is mental. The margins between the top teams are so narrow that winning can often come down to self belief. Wales were playnig with their confidence sky high this time last year, but with 8 straight defeats going in to this match in Paris it was natural that the expectations were low. Hopefully for Welsh fans this unexpected win will now see the team’s confidence come back, and we can go to Rome in two weeks and put in a good display against Italy and maybe come away with a win. If we manage that the whole nature of our 2013 6 Nations could turn around.
With Ireland playhing England later today, currently all 6 countries lie on two points. Assuming there isn’t a draw in Dublin today, we shall go into the 3rd weekend of the 6 Nations in two weeks’ time with 5 of the 6 countries on 2 points and one country on 4 points. Will it be Ireland or England who top the table? Whoever is top by the end of today will be the only country able to do the Grand Slam this year.