• February 1, 2023

Matt Dawson column: Wales being denied Grand Slam by France will haunt them for years

Wales’ late loss to France In order to end their hopes for the Grand Slam for six nations, they will be pursued for many years.

They were 30-27 and in possession of the ball when they were knocked off their feet and conceded a penalty in the last minute. They played with 13 men and France took the chance to score.

Wales will continue to win the title unless France beat Scotland on Friday by a bonus point and a margin of more than 20 points, but nobody thinks about it when you’ve lost a Grand Slam.

Unfortunately, I was in this scenario far too often when the Grand Slam was at stake and England lost. There are going to be some sleepless nights for Wales.

I still have flashbacks in my dreams Scott Gibbs from Wales scored a try in the final seconds at Wembley to deny England a Grand Slam in 1999.

For years to come, this Welsh team will have flashbacks in 80 minutes to cough the ball and give France one last chance. It’ll haunt you – it’s not a nice feeling at all.

It reminds you, you still see it on social media. It absolutely haunts me and will forever.

“France is so dangerous”

France creates incredible rugby. Everyone now knows that if you want to beat France you have to play a certain way and try to score points.

That does not mean that they are invincible, but I am convinced that we will see a significant period in which France will be very dangerous.

Suddenly the players and coaching staff have bottled the flair that France always had, but combined it with discipline and game management they had never had before, winning these types of games.

Wales were in total control, but when France’s suspension Paul Willemse was sent off in the 68th minute, it was like someone in the French camp had pressed the red alarm button.

They started playing like their lives depended on it. With Wales a 10 point lead I didn’t see France win, but when they got into 22 and before Willemse was sent off, Wales began to hand out multiple penalties and lose the referee.

They thought it would go to the wire, but Wales would have enough in the locker. After beating an unlikely victory, France looks so dangerous now.

Table with six nations with the following information: 1. Wales P 5 W 4 D 0 L 1 PD 61 B 4 points 20;  2. Ireland P 5 W 3 D 0 L 2 PD 48 B 3 point 15;  3. France P 4 W 3 D 0 L 1 PD 41 B 3 points 15;  4. Scotland P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 PD 43 B 3 point 11;  5. England P 5 W 2 D 0 L 3 PD -9 B 2 pt 10;  6. Italy P 5 W 0 D 0 L 5 PD -184 B 0 points 0If France want to deny Wales the six-nation title, they must beat Scotland with a bonus point of four tries and at least 21 points to make up the point difference

“A sensational six nations”

During the Fall 2020 Cup of Nations, I said rugby needed a change to avoid the bulging game we saw.

And in those six nations, most of the games were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. There has been a lot of drama.

You may not like it because your team is not winning, but most of the time the games have been sensational.

Given the circumstances we all find ourselves in, rugby desperately needed the Six Nations storefront to be right up there. I can’t remember a Six Nations like that.

“England’s fifth place is unacceptable”

England won the six nations title in 2020 and this year they finished fifth Loss to Ireland in their last game. None of the players will find this acceptable.

It’s not necessarily up to the fans or anyone else to decide whether this is acceptable or not. It is the players who will be desperately disappointed knowing they are better than fifth.

Look what they did to France when they did Beat her on the fourth round and see what France is doing in general. England is at this level.

They are up against Wales and France so it is unacceptable that they lost three games in the Six Nations.

You can’t see England play like they did against France and suddenly they say they are a terrible team.

How can the players and management unlock this style of English player with this intent and ability so that it becomes the standard?

I know head coach Eddie Jones will come up with excuses and say England can’t play like this every week.

But look at New Zealand, look at France – they have intentions. This is how they want to play the game.

I think England has to find out for itself and it comes from above. I worry it’s not as tight as we all lead us to believe.

I am desperately trying to figure out why you wouldn’t go out in Dublin and play with the intensity that England had against France.

The conditions against Ireland were perfect. England was missing two players – Henry Slade and Max Malins – but it was pretty much the same team.

Why wasn’t there the intensity to do quick line-outs and type penalties? Why were they suddenly very badly disciplined? What has changed in a week?

I think it has to come from management but the players still have a responsibility to strengthen themselves. The older players have a responsibility to try to correct this with the coaching team.

Matt Dawson spoke to BBC Sport’s Becky Gray.

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Jack

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