Already mired in controversy, this weekend saw the long-awaited Wales-England leg of the Six Nations. Unlike the usually friendly camaraderie between these two familiar teams, the atmosphere in the stadium seemed off from the start, and the drama that’s unfolded since has only worsened the rift. Regardless, Wales walked away from the match with their highest points tally against England to date at 40-24.
That’s impressive indeed, and it certainly puts the Welsh team in good stead for Super Saturday, with the man of the match, Taulupe Faletau, proving especially impressive. Unfortunately, fans have been so swept up in so-called inter-team disagreements that many have failed to answer the one question on everyone’s lips – what does the Welsh team’s standing look like now?
Here, we’re going to unravel the match, controversy and all, to get a better idea of where Wales still stands in the Six Nations, and what that means for the tournament overall.
Addressing inter-match controversy
It would be impossible to talk about the Welsh win without also addressing the controversy surrounding it. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t good news from the beginning, with controversial tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams opening Wales to a 17-14 lead from half-time. These decisions by referee, Gauzare, led to English dismay that only worsened when English captain, Farrell, was asked to speak to the team about their lack of discipline.
Overall, the match atmosphere was miles away from what we’ve come to expect out of both Welsh and English rugby sensibilities, but it isn’t altogether surprising. For one thing, Welsh Rugby has a huge following, with pressure this year especially high as fans seek some good news amidst lockdowns. Not to mention that a lack of crowds and a general atmosphere reported as ‘eerie’ by the BBC, seems to have led to clashes that simply wouldn’t have happened any other year.
How do Wales look going into Super Saturday?
Super Saturday may be some way off yet, but the matches that have already unravelled reveal a fair amount about what we can expect. In fact, according to Wales Online, a win against Italy on March 13th could spell very good news indeed ahead of a Super Saturday match against France.
Admittedly, there is a way to go before Wales becomes a solid contender, but the stars do seem to be aligning that way, with French Covid policy breaches especially coming to the fore and putting their position in jeopardy. If the Welsh team gain a bonus point during their Italy match, they’ll enter Super Saturday with nineteen championship points. This, paired with both England and Ireland wins/draws in their upcoming matches, would certainly prove favourable for a decent shot at a Welsh win.
To say that the Six Nations is a sure bet would be to grossly overestimate how much of an open floor the tournament remains, but Saturday’s match certainly gave rugby fans everywhere a lot more to think about, and argue over, as we move ever-further into the rugby event of the year.