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Six Nations 2020: Wales reflect as captain Alun Wyn Jones demands winning return

Six Nations highlights: France overcome Wales in thrilling clash

It was never going to be an easy job for Wayne Pivac following Warren Gatland as Wales coach.

Back-to-back Six Nations defeats and a trip to London to take on Eddie Jones’ England next mean Pivac has quickly become aware of the rigours of top-flight international rugby.

A 24-14 defeat by Ireland was followed by a 27-23 home loss against France, leaving Wales facing the prospect of relinquishing their Six Nations title.

Life is not about to get much easier with England – who were comfortable winners over Ireland on Sunday – to come on 7 March, with Wales having last won a Six Nations game at Twickenham in 2012.

There has been talk of a new playing style being given time to bed in and a transitional period under Pivac, but all that is alien to Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

“It [the new style] can be very pretty but it is not winning,” said Jones.

“Ultimately Test rugby is about winning and we need to do that pretty quick.

“People say a lot has changed but that’s an excuse.

“Change is just an excuse and we had enough ball to capitalise and get enough points against France, but we are on the receiving end.

“You can take an element of pride with how we finished the game but there is no consolation.”

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Number eight Taulupe Faletau echoed his captain’s sentiments by insisting victory over England will not eradicate the memory of earlier losses.

“A win over England isn’t going to define our championship – as a group of players we are better than that,” said Faletau.

“Winning the championship would have been good, but that is probably too far-fetched now.

“We’ve got England next up and I don’t think we are going to need any motivation going into that game.”

There were a few murmurings starting to surface following Wales’ first loss to France in Cardiff since 2010 as Shaun Edwards returned to haunt his former side.

Pivac knows the levels of expectation but believes there are signs of progress.

“I think as disappointing as it is to lose games of rugby, the matches against the French in recent times have been very close,” said Pivac.

“It could have gone either way on numerous occasions and on this occasion it’s a very frustrating loss, but we have to keep working on the positives and believe we’re heading in the right direction.

“For this team it’s all about improving but we’re heading in the right direction.

“We’re putting in long hours and working very hard and if one or two things had stuck, we’d have been very happy with this performance.”

Wales ‘will not panic’ after second successive defeat – Wayne Pivac

Injury issues

There will not be any panic in the Wales camp with no thoughts of wholesale change following consecutive defeats and little chance of defending their title.

The first task will be to assess the walking wounded after wings George North and Josh Adams were both forced against France.

North failed a head injury assessment after a heavy challenge by Gael Fickou, while Adams suffered an ankle problem. North has a well-documented history of concussions but there was no indication Pivac would take the wing out of action himself.

“That’s for the medical people to decide,” said Pivac.

“We’ll use the best people available as we always do and they’ll make the decision on that.”

Teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit is waiting for his first cap, while Liam Williams was training with Wales before the defeat by France after being sidelined since October with an ankle problem.

Pivac believes only minor tweaks are required.

“There were a lot of positives to come out of that France performance and there were a few things out of our control which we weren’t too happy with, but to panic and make wholesale changes would not be the right thing to do,” said Pivac.

“We’ve spoken in the changing room about the positives which came out of the game.

“We had a makeshift back-line to finish the game and I thought we were still creating opportunities to win the game. Young Jarrod (Evans) coming on I thought looked dangerous and Nick (Tompkins) went out on to the wing.

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“There was a bit of disruption there with George going off early too. There were lots of positives, it’s just disappointing about the decisions we feel aggrieved over.”

Dubious decisions?

Back to gripes about refereeing decisions. Pivac’s frustrations were aimed at a penalty try not being awarded in the second half for what he deemed a deliberate knock-on by France lock Paul Willemse as well as the officiating at the scrum.

There was one particular scrum where Demba Bamba won a penalty with Wales feeling the France replacement tight-head had not scrummaged straight.

So how does Pivac hammer home this message over scrum unhappiness? A call to World Rugby maybe?

“That’s out of our control,” said Pivac.

“We work very hard to try and improve our performance and I just think when they (the referees) look back at one or two decisions from this game they might agree with us.”

Wales had wound France up before the game with prop Wyn Jones predicting that the visiting scrum would aim to chase and cheat in the set-piece.

France coach Fabien Galthie responded by saying Jones had shown a lack of respect to the nation while there was an altercation between the two teams after the final whistle.

Wales’ captain believes the verbal jousting had little impact on the game.

“It was all hot air,” said Jones.

“We knew they were going to be like that because they were a young French side coming to play in one of the best stadiums in the world.”

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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