New Welsh golden generation?

Sun, 18 Mar 2012 00:00
Large 2511 0 0 0 2662832
A youthful Wales team seized a third Grand Slam in eight seasons with a hard-fought 16-9 victory over France, delivering on the rich promise that first came to light at the World Cup.

A youthful Wales team seized a third Grand Slam in eight seasons with a hard-fought 16-9 victory over France, delivering on the rich promise that first came to light at the World Cup.

And coach Warren Gatland vowed that the goal now would be to start turning over the world's top-ranked countries, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

"There was a relief at the fact that we hung on and won the game," said Gatland, speaking after adding the victory to previous successes over Ireland (23-21), Scotland (27-13), England (19-12) and Italy (24-3).

"Our big aim is to start being consistent and beating the southern hemisphere teams and I think we've got a young enough side that over the next few years we can hopefully do that."

Gatland's team have long threatened to spark a real rebirth of Welsh rugby, having pushed the touring SANZAR sides close on several occasions - and even notching up a couple of rare wins - in the November internationals.

But after reaching the World Cup semifinal, when Wales lost 9-8 to France, Gatland's troops finally started to deliver on a pragmatic gameplan inspired by some young, giant backs and marauding jackals at the breakdown.

Captained by 23-year-old flank Sam Warburton, the Welsh team has an experienced thread running through its front and second rows, and in 29-year-old scrum-half Mike Phillips.

But the backrow is fired by Toby Faletau, 21, and Dan Lydiate, 24. Rhys Priestland masterminds things from flyhalf with a maturity belying his 25 years, and wings Alex Cuthbert and George North, the latter still a teenager, flank yet more young players in centres Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, and fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

"In this campaign we've shown some great character, fantastic maturity, we've been down in games, we've learnt how to win and win ugly on a couple of occasions," said Gatland, now the front runner to take the British and Irish Lions to Australia next year.

"We've accepted some of the tags of being favourites, and that hasn't always sat well on our shoulders.

"For a young side, they've coped incredibly well and I'd like to think it will be good for us as a team over the next two or three years.

"Good sides defend desperately and they show character without the ball, and that's what this team is doing."

Attack coach Rob Howley, a former Wales captain and scrum-half, missed out on any Grand Slam glory as a player but was quick to dismiss any ideas that this Welsh team had achieved too much too early.

"Everything they've achieved, they've deserved," Howley said. "Sometimes all that hard work is not measurable.

"The measurable thing they've got is that they've won the Triple Crown and the Grand Slam and this side'll even get better over the next four years."

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
RESULT SCORE
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UWC v Rhodes 88 | 8
TUT v WSU 13 | 17
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
Sun, 19 February 2017
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 46 | 31
Sale Sharks v Wasps 34 | 28
Sat, 18 February 2017
Connacht v Dragons 14 | 9
Ospreys v Munster 23 | 25
Leicester Tigers v Bristol 50 | 17
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 37 | 17
Bath v Harlequins 22 | 12
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 2 2 0 0 8
Ireland 2 1 0 1 6
Wales 2 1 0 1 5
France 2 1 0 1 5
Scotland 2 1 0 1 5
Italy 2 0 0 2 0
RELATED ARTICLES