Welsh bask in 'special day'

Sun, 10 Feb 2013 12:59
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Wales interim coach Rob Howley said his side's 16-6 win over France in their Six Nations clash was a special day.

Wales interim coach Rob Howley said his side's 16-6 win over France in their Six Nations clash on Saturday, which ended their eight-game losing streak, was a special day.

The 42-year-old had seen his position come under pressure after the run that coincided with last year's Grand Slam-winning coach Warren Gatland stepping aside temporarily to prepare for this year's British and Irish Lions tour.

However, a sterling defensive display and a late George North try allowed Wales to register just their fourth win in Paris since 1975.

"This is a pretty special day," said Howley, who was on a winning Welsh side in Paris in a 34-33 thriller in 1999, but had also seen his team lose to Ireland in last weekend's Six Nations opener.

"However, I have been telling the players for weeks now that you don't become a bad side overnight.

"All the ingredients were there, it was just we weren't getting the results but only losing by small margins.

"The players, though, have shown enormous character in what was a tremendous defensive performance."

Shaun Edwards, the combative defence coach, said that he had felt they were in the right shape to defeat the French.

"The preparation was perfect this week. France seem to bring the best out of us. Perhaps it is the way that they attack us," he said.

"But it's saying something that this is the third successive game they haven't scored a try against us....one of them was with just 14 men for the majority of the match and that shouldn't have been the case [Sam Warburton's sending off in the 2011 World Cup semifinal].

"I don't think it is fear that brings the best out of us it is more respect."

Wales captain Ryan Jones, who was standing in for the injured Warburton, said that the players had reacted to the bad run in the best possible way.

"It was by no means a flawless performance but we'll take it," said Jones, who was captaining the Welsh for a record 30th time.

"It is a testament to the players' character. We told them to be bold and brave and they fronted up."

Howley, whose side next play Italy, said that there were enormous benefits to take from the victory.

"One thing these guys have done over the last few months is wear the shirt with pride," he said.

"The players deserve all the plaudits. For once we came out on the right side of the scoreboard today and hopefully from this we have regained the confidence and belief that usually stems from victory."

Howley refused to speculate as to whether this could act as a springboard for retaining the title.

"I think we have to enjoy tonight first," he said. "Of course the belief will be back but let's just take in the next game as the old adage goes."

AFP

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