A win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win – Part I

postmatchyosoy paraphrases Gertrude Stein, heaves a sigh of relief, and casts an eye over Wales’ performance against France:

Sometimes a win is enough. Sometimes being pretty and winning the hearts and minds of others is off the agenda.

waleswinThe players’ elation and transparent relief at the final whistle was noticeable. It was not a classic test match in terms of quality. The two teams went at it like a couple of punch-drunk sluggers rather than skirting around the issue and landing the odd stinger. Enthralling enough in its own way, but not one for the annals.

Looking at the Welsh performance, it seemed like a very back-to-basics, narrow game plan: good line-speed; a lot of two-man tackling; let Ryan Jones, Tipuric and Jenkins slow down the ball; keep the fringe defence tight and not allow any runners through the middle; wait for a turnover/mistake; Biggar to kick in behind; play in French territory only, and use the big boys up the middle and just eke everything out. And it worked. France’s inability to execute a largely similar game plan was the difference between two sides low on confidence.

My take on the individual performances:

Gethin – Never renowned for his scrummagging, he struggled against Mas more than he usually does. That said, his overall performance compared to last week was a vast improvement. Won two penalties and one turnover in the first half with his jackling skills. Any kids watching should take a look at Gethin’s body positions if they want to learn how to slow down and steal ball at the breakdown.


Hibbard – Looks like Shane Warne has let himself go. Didn’t bring his regional form to the international stage as he’s usually a very good close-quarter carrier, but the line out was solid. The only two Welsh scrums which went forward all night were due to Hibbard managing to split Mas and Szarzewski. Good enough to keep his place.

Adam – Last week he was perhaps unfortunate that the other side of the scrum was being refereed. This week he was unfortunate that his side was being looked at as he struggled to get to grips with both Forestier and Debaty. If there weren’t such a paucity of decent tight head props around, he might be worried about making the Lions tour. As it is, they’ll probably take three tight heads and he’ll sneak in on reputation. His general play, particularly as the pillar at rucks, was his usual good, unspectacular self. Needs to improve over the rest of this tournament.

Andrew-Coombs-Wales-v-Ireland-Six-Nations-201_2898107Coombs – Last week he put in a good effort but looked a bit green; this week he didn’t look out of place at all. Being a converted back-rower means he’s not going to be a huge help packing behind Gethin but he did all the dirty work that you want from your tight-five players. Couple of line out takes, nine carries and fourteen tackles equals a good shift in anyone’s book. Will keep his place while AWJ is eased back into the team.

Evans – Arguably his best game in a Welsh shirt. I was critical of him taking contact too upright last week, but his close carrying was much better this time around. His pick-and-go which led to the North try was vital yards gained in a match as tight as this. Varied the line out calls more than I thought he would and managed to get his Mr Ticklesque arms in to disrupt some powerful French mauling. High tackle count, too. Big shift.


Ryan Jones – Did everything – and that little bit more – you want your blindside to do: carried the crap, slow ball and presented it well; made his tackles; got into a scrap with one of the French forwards; put in a little kick deep into the French 22 (eat your heart out, every 12 in the Six Nations); won a couple of turnovers; dived on a couple of loose balls; shared a joke with Dusuatoir; led by example. Always composed, never flustered. It’s no coincidence that Wales always play better when he’s on the field.

Tipuric – Top tackler, top line out winner, worked hard to slow down French ball at the breakdown, made a couple of important links to keep momentum going. Isn’t powerful at the contact area, but he’s an intelligent enough player to use good footwork to take contact on his own terms. He usually focuses on going lower – completing the tackle being more important than winning that mini-battle. A good player who’ll win a lot of caps. The shirt should be his, for now at least.


Faletau – The quietest of the back rowers, he’s always less noticeable when Wales play as narrow as they did on Saturday. Much more effective when used as a wider carrier, but he did a manful job on the whole. Let Huget get around the outside on one occasion in the first half, but managed to prevent Fofana from doing the same in the second. Nowhere near his capabilities, but part of a gutsy effort.

Coming very soon to a Hask blog near you, Part 2, with yosoy’s thoughts on the Welsh backs and … those much maligned coaches.

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618 Responses to A win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win – Part I

  1. firstdifference says:

    Rugby playing the role that ice hockey does in Canada, of course.

  2. firstdifference says:

    As an aside, Woodward gets a lot of flack for the Lions in 2005, for not picking enough Welsh as they had just won a GS, but everyone seems to forget that the very same Welsh side sucked ass the following year, bumping along into 4th and losing 47-13 at HQ to the FOATHIGADITW

    Is this an argument for not selecting on current form? Not being snarky, I am actually quite sympathetic to the idea that current form should not be the main criteria for selecting players, unless the player has qualities that clearly mark them out as being potentially better historically than alternatives or they have also been historically better. Selecting based on a handful of performances rather than other less random factors might not be the best strategy.

  3. avsfan says:

    What is your national stereotype Avs? Just being good at rugby ad relieved you aren’t Ozzies?


    Avs is our national stereotype, Dov. He’s a used house salesman living as far away from NZ as possible. Very kiwi that.

    And selling a couple of new ones also. But yes.

  4. avsfan says:

    NO! NZ is our Canada not Wales, with Australia playing the role of the US. Much better analogy. All immigrant societies, the smaller country is more or less indistinguishable from the larger by anyone on the outside, and citizens of the smaller country put in as much effort as possible to make themselves feel superior to their bigger, richer, more important, more diverse neighbour while all emigrating there for employment.


  5. CupidStunt says:


    I’m not really making any argument about form at all. I just think that that Welsh team of 2005 was worth more than the sum of its parts – those guys had been through a world cup together a couple of years before and had come of age – and it was impossible for any coach of the Lions to replicate that. It only took a bit of discord within the camp the following year for it all to fall apart. And some of the calls Woodward made at the time don’t now seem as nuts as they did at the time. Take Henson, for example. Nobody realised in 2005 what a twat he could be. Many posters here (apart from Welsh ones, for obvious reasons) talk about the importance for the coming Lions tour of having players who have beaten Australia in the recent past. Well, in 2005, it was only 2 years since England had beaten NZ away. Woodward was actually using a lot of the logic that many on here do.

  6. beadleclawuk says:

    @Cupid well yes I can see your point about England and the ABs in 2005. But what Clive had done and done so well was build over the course of a number of years for that Eng team to peak for the RWC. So what we had was England players two years past their peak as a preponderance in the squad, or it seemed like that ( and Andy Titterall for pete’s sake). Then he mangled the togetherness of the Lions by separating the Test boys from the dirt-trackers. All in all a complete schmozzle…

  7. boomkingish says:

    So selling houses in the US is, to a Kiwi, as selling pints in the UK is to an Ozzie.
    Not quite. Our national past-times are:
    1. Selling each other houses.
    2. Selling each other flet whites.
    3. Getting the hell out of NZ.
    Avs is quite unusual in combining 1 and 3 rather than 2 and 3. But the real giveaway is his sideline: guiding fly-fishing multi-millionaires, who mistake his mono-syllabic kiwi gaucheness for gruff, authentic, laconic down-to-earthiness.

  8. firstdifference says:

    4. Claiming to have invented things that are more or less merengues with fruit and cream and a wet cappuccino with a different name.

  9. firstdifference says:

    That would be meringue, the food, not merengue, the dance. Though NZers are good dancers, another stereotype.

  10. avsfan says:

    guiding fly-fishing multi-millionaires, who mistake his mono-syllabic kiwi gaucheness for gruff, authentic, laconic down-to-earthiness.

    The women seem to get confused about that also. Bless.

  11. avsfan says:

    4. Claiming to have invented things that are more or less merengues with fruit and cream and a wet cappuccino with a different name.

    Phar Lap.

  12. avsfan says:

    Meant to add: we invented that, too. 🙂

  13. sunbeamtim says:

    Phew , working late , missed all the fun so will throw a few thoughts out there to the Breakfast club . I post therefore I am .
    .Bolters ? I am calling for Johnnie May , Steffon Armitage , and Nick Easter .
    Nesting ? Thaum as well , its a fucking epidemic .
    What does a Lions tour mean ? If in the UK ,Oz and Nz means finding a pub that has it on live . A good landlord and anyone in the pub at breakfast time will almost certainly be a real enthusiast . Anyone turning up for more than a couple is worth listening to .Quite excited already , if I cant escape by then .
    Good Lions tour pub guide No.1 – Rose and Crown in Stelling Minnis, Kent .
    Gatland ? I get a bit like that when I have a smoke . Is there a testing regime for coaches ?
    Warbs ? Lay off him , anyone who admits to liking Anthrax is ok in my book .
    Arrogant fans ? We all have them , and can be them , its all about perception .
    Beer of the night ? Harpoon Celtic Red . Beer of choice for WLF after Brains ?

    NOS DA

  14. sunbeamtim says:

    Stick it to em , Avs .

  15. daffodane says:

    I think Gatland will pick mostly English and Irish players based on form in his starting Lions XV, and then when you lot will be spitting out feathers at his selection, because you were taken for reactionary fools.
    Meanwhile he’ll be sitting back smugly in his chair laughing at you. Because that’s the way he is. He’s a bitter little hooker that sat in the shadow of the great Fitzpatrick, and he’s out to get his own way.

    Btw read the btl at the Guardian today for the first time in weeks, not as bad as most of you are making out. Stop being so sensitive.

  16. daffodane says:

    And also don’t get Cardiff mistaken as Wales. It’s like when most people get London confused with the rest of England.

  17. daffodane says:

    It’s like when most visitors get London confused with the rest of England.

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