Rugby Union: Dynamo at the hub of affairs

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WALES ought not to be counting any chickens for their 100th confrontation with England on 19 March. After what happened in Paris yesterday, England will now start favourites and, instead of going out to stop Wales, they will now surely have the confidence to force a win.

Nevertheless, the Welsh will be encouraged by the fact that England never remotely looked like scoring a try and that the game was won only by the appalling indiscipline of a French pack which allowed Rob Andrew to extract a heavy toll. By contrast, England did not concede a penalty to Thierry Lacroix until five minutes into the second half.

It will now be the turn of Pierre Berbizier, the French coach, to come under pressure, for France simply must have better forwards than that cumbersome liability Olivier Merle, and a better scrum-half than Fabien Galthie.

On the other hand, his opposite number, Dewi Morris, gave heart to his forwards and took the heat off Andrew by his superb judgement of when and where to give the ball. Behind such a composed service, Andrew's confidence blossomed and he dictated the course of the match on the England possession. He also had more than a say in affairs when France were on the attack, with some truly definitive tackling as decisive as his accuracy with the boot.

Yesterday morning, Alan Davies, the Welsh coach, told me: 'Wales are currently practising at a pace that the other countries would struggle to achieve. We have built a powerful defence; we now have ways of winning the set-pieces and consequently we are able to employ those inherent Welsh aptitudes for rugby reflected in traits and skills that only the French can match.'

After yesterday, the Welsh problem will be to break down the English forwards, who ran at their counterparts and got them flapping. They will need to do something about Morris and Andrew and not forget that England defended magnificently. Had the touch-judge spotted that Abdel Benazzi's foot was in touch, then France would not have scored a try either.

Comments