Being Welsh, and a rugby fan, nothing is more anticipated than Wales vs. England in the Six Nations, and, this year was no exception. In the build-up to the match both, Rob Howley and Eddie Jones were said to be playing mind games with their opposite numbers which made the Saturday evening clash an even juicier affair.
The game itself was nothing short of tense and produced everything you could hope the Wales – England rivalry would.
The Welsh were unjustly beaten by a try from England winger Elliot Daly in the last five minutes, but that shouldn’t take away from the Welsh team’s performance.
Before the game there was a lot of talk about who would start on the wing for Wales, and, due to George North’s dead leg, Alex Cuthbert was given the chance to prove to the Welsh public, and also the rugby world, that he re-produce the brilliant form that initially got him into the Welsh side.
Personally, I thought Cuthbert had one of his better games in the red but that still didn’t stop a tirade of abuse being thrown at the Welsh winger after the game.
A lot of the blame was put on Cuthbert for not doing more to prevent Elliot Daly’s winning try, when in reality the play leading up to the try was not directly Cuthbert’s fault. The winger is no stranger to criticism from the Welsh and you can tell how much it is affecting his game, with unnecessary mistakes seeping in too often.
I am not Cuthbert’s biggest fan myself, and believe that Blues winger, Tom James, should be given his chance ahead of Cuthbert in the Welsh squad. However, I do have to say that the criticism, and boarder line abuse, that Cuthbert has received in the aftermath of the game on Saturday is very unfair.
Another massive talking point in Wales since the Autumn Internationals has been whether Rob Howley is best candidate to coach Wales whilst Warren Gatland is away.
I am very underwhelmed by Howley as a Head Coach and feel like the squad he’s picked for the 6 Nations was very safe. Even though he brought in the likes of Leicester’s Owen Williams and also London Wasps Tom Youngs, I feel he missed the perfect opportunity to make a statement and play the two youngsters against Italy.
I have also been very underwhelmed by Wales in general in the last few years. The ‘Gatland’ way of rugby has now become very tiring and frustrating.
Other teams have now figured out exactly what Wales are going to do – crash, bang, wallop rugby.
In my opinion, the Gatland era is coming to an end; as well as he has done with Wales and also the British and Irish Lions, his style is dated in my opinion. Rugby has evolved massively whilst Gatlan and Wales have remained rather static.
Granted, they played well against England, however they were still lacking attacking venom. Wales have the players to be able to be creative, especially with the young players that are coming through the ranks, but, it is still yet to be seen.
From a Welsh perspective, I believe that the team can take away a lot of positives from the game against England, and even though losing in the way that they did was hard to take, it was a fantastic game to watch and I hope that Wales go in to the following Six Nation games with the same mentality as they did this one.