Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

Wales in disarray after skipper's authority questioned with Irish out to capitalise

By David Kelly

More Welsh big-hitters were rolled out yesterday to defend their captain Alun-Wyn Jones in the aftermath of Saturday's calamitous Cardiff defeat to Scotland with Ireland due in town on Friday week.

Jones wanted to go for the three points when Wales were awarded a penalty on 50 minutes, with his team trailing just 16-13 to Scotland at the time.

Dan Biggar asked whether he wanted to kick to the corner instead, but accepted his captain's decision when he confirmed a shot at goal and went to hand the ball over to primary place-kicker Leigh Halfpenny.

But Lions full-back Halfpenny didn't fancy it, so Jones opted to go for the corner instead.

Such is the confusion that yesterday Jones' former Test colleague Shane Williams suggested Jones should not have been overruled by an out-half, Biggar, while in Wales full-back, and usual place-kicker, Halfpenny offered himself up as the culprit.

Jones publicly said he deferred to his team's kickers but now they have both tugged the forelock of their wavering captain in what, on the face of it, appears a pathetically weak demonstration of solidarity.

"The bottom line is Leigh has held his hands up and said he didn't fancy the kick," said Biggar.

"To which, in as many words, Alun-Wyn has said, 'Sod it, we'll go to the corner then'.

"It was a very amicable chat and for me it was never about overruling the captain. Where that came from and who put that out there, I have no idea.

"I've asked Al. If it was on the '22' and bang in front, I wouldn't have asked. As it was on the touchline, I've asked the question about whether to go for the corner.

"I've turned - which I don't think some people have seen on the video footage - to give the ball to Leigh but he hasn't taken it and sometimes that's the way it goes.

"It was a tough day and a tough kick, so then I've put the ball in the corner.

"Does that sound like I've overruled the captain?

"It's been a pretty hurtful couple of days. It's not nice being questioned about whether you've overruled the captain, let alone it being someone like Alun-Wyn who I've huge respect for.

"It's pretty hurtful to have people phoning you up and asking if you've disrespected your captain."

Ireland, in stark contrast, are brimming with strong leadership figures and visit Cardiff on Friday week seeking to condemn Wales to a second successive home defeat.

"We're presented with another challenge against a top, top team," added Biggar.

"They've been on a roll since Murrayfield and this is a must-win game for them if they want to win the title.

"It is about fronting up and making sure we are better for Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph