Monday, 17 October 2011

Seeing Red

As the debate about Sam Warburton’s red card rages on I must admit that my initial reaction of astonishment and outrage has given way to a more considered view.

Given the IRB directive on the tip tackle, Alain Rolland really had no choice other than to send the Welsh skipper off. That other refs in the RWC have not applied the law correctly in the tournament is irrelevant. Regrettably he had to go.

However, despite playing for most of the match with a man down, a dysfunctional lineout and a scrummage in retreat (which probaby should have been penalised or more than one occasion), Wales still had more than enough possession and field position to win the game. Poor decision making in the absence of Rhys Priestland cost them dearly and the fact the rookie fly half was missed so badly doesn't reflect at all well on either of James Hook or Stephen Jones.

All that said, my initial view that this was an immense Welsh performance in the face of adversity remains undiminished. In particular Jamie Roberts, Toby Faletau, Leigh ½ p and McDonalds Phillips were all absolutely top drawer and the team can be rightly proud of its efforts. Crikey, even Luke Charteris is now beginning to look like a rugby player.

For those claiming that Wales are well set for RWC 2015, however, a note of caution. Yes, Wales currently have a good young squad with loads of promise but, as Francois Piennaar said on Saturday, the World Cup is all about the here and now. Wales were superbly prepared for this particular tournament. Arguably, therefore, 2011 was their one chance to land the biggest of prizes and, for whatever reason, they failed to take it. Who knows whether the same opportunity will present itself in four years time?

1 comment:

anne bebbington said...

You have it in a nutshell there - Dan Parkes, Jonny Wilkinson, Ronan O'Gara, Morgan Parra and even Mirco Bergamasco would have slipped into that pocket and waited for Mike Phillips to set them up with a winning drop goal - why Jones didn't do that when he has in other games and Phillips was repeatedly gesturing for him to do so is one of those mysteries that will linger in the air for a very long time - I'll lay money on it that young Mr Priestland would have positioned himself there if he'd been at 10 - the loss of him for this game with a shoulder injury is what cost Wales this chance of winning the RWC not Mr Rolland's decision