Welsh rugby on the whole had a very mixed bag over the weekend, with two losses and one victory, yet it is the manner of performance on the way to the results that have been the biggest talking points. From highs to ultimate lows, Welsh rugby over the weekend was anything but dull.
First up was Team Wales, the pinnacle of rugby in Wales. The first half was one of the most shambolic produced by a Welsh team for years that their opponents Ireland took ruthless advantage of. It would seem the tradition for a dip in form seen after the previous two Grand Slams in recent times was rearing its ugly head yet again. A second half turn around managed to put some gloss on what was otherwise a dismal display, and if Welsh hearts want to avoid further heartbreak then they will be hoping that Team Wales put in a markedly improved performance in their next game.
That however is away from home, and against the might of France. A France that will be inwardly seething at having been beaten by Italy in Rome. Yet it is from the Italians that this Welsh side can take hope. Attack the French from the off, disrupt their rhythm, drive them back in defence and they might just have the smallest chance of getting an upset. Fans will be desperate for any sort of improvement, but defensively at least they need to cut out their errors from their opening encounter against Ireland.
Result: Wales 22 – 30 Ireland
Wales’ women provided a different kind of heartache to that of the men’s senior side. Having stuttered somewhat in the first half, they eventually began to impose themselves on the game with a superior set piece to their Irish opponents. Leading 10-7 going into the last five minutes, a win was looking likely until slick passing and good support play saw the Irish yet again breaking Welsh hearts to cross for the winning try. The women can without doubt take far more positives out of their performance than the men, but they again are on the round to face a French side that is reeling from an Italian defeat. It will be hard work no doubt for them to notch up their first win of the tournament.
Result: Wales 10 – 12 Ireland
Looking at other results though and there is still a beam of hope and success in Welsh rugby. The Wales U20’s side kicked off the weekend on Friday evening at a lively Parc Eirias in style with a close and hard fought win over their Irish counterparts.
The early stages of the match had seen Wales’ youngsters dominating territory and possession, yet a cruel swirling wind did it’s best to work against the boot of fly half Sam Davies, preventing Wales from building up a big lead. Ireland against the run of play scored the first try, but in the second half it was the home side that managed to use the ball to their advantage.
Earning more penalties, Davies was successful with one and when the Irish saw themselves down to 14 men with a sin-binning the Welsh took their chance to score. Ireland hit back with another try of their own but were unable to convert and an exchange of penalties at the end saw Wales do enough to hold out for the win in very tricky conditions, with many of the youngsters such as Dan Thomas and Sion Bennett putting in eye catching displays. Their next opponents are France, and it would be a huge boost for this young squad if they could cause an upset away from home.
Result: Wales U20’s 17 – 15 Ireland U20’s