Wales coach Warren Gatland sprang a World Cup shocker today as he revealed he considered asking a front-row forward to feign injury during the controversial World Cup semi-final defeat against France.
The admission alone could see Gatland face sanctions from the tournament organisers ahead of Friday’s third place play-off against Australia. A dim view is also likely to be taken of his continued criticism of Irish referee Alain Rolland’s decison to send of Wales captain Sam Warburton in the same match.
Gatland had already seen prop Adam Jones depart with a calf injury, and then eight minutes later Warburton was sent off.
Despite being reduced to 14 men for more than an hour, Wales scored the game's only try through scrum-half Mike Phillips and only lost by a point, 9-8.
Gatland, still disappointed by the referee's decision, revealed that in the wake of the red card the coaches talked about faking an injury.
“I know a lot has been spoken about the red card,” Gatland said.
“In retrospect, I can understand in any game under the letter of the law there are a number of decisions referees can make.
“I just thought on that occasion, given the significance of a World Cup semi-final, to give a yellow card would have been an appropriate decision.
“That is why they are appointed as the top referees in the world, because they make the right decisions.”
Gatland continued: “I will give you an example with what happened after that. We'd already lost Adam Jones, and we discussed in the coaches box whether we would fake an injury to one of our props and go to uncontested scrums.”
Gatland added: “But morally, I made the decision it wasn't the right thing to do.
“We could easily have done that in the first 25-30 minutes, but in the spirit of the game, in the spirit of a World Cup semi-final, I didn't think that was the fairest or the right thing.
“That is why I honestly believe Alain Rolland made the wrong decision. Under the rules and regulations he was perfectly entitled to give a red card. But every game is different.
“You have to take the circumstances of the situation and the intent, and in that situation, given his experience and the role he was given, a yellow card was the right decision to make.”
Now Gatland (below) and Wales must turn their attention to Friday's bronze medal match against Australia at Eden Park.
Prop Gethin Jenkins has been appointed captain in Warburton's absence, while Toby Faletau, the only Wales player with a 100% appearance record in the tournament, will move from number eight to openside flanker to fill Warburton's boots.
Former Wales skipper Ryan Jones will fill the number eight role, with Paul James packing down at tighthead prop instead of Adam Jones, who has a calf muscle injury.
One change, sees Bradley Davies replacing Alun-Wyn Jones. Ospreys lock Jones is on the bench, where forwards Ryan Bevington and Andy Powell have been handed call-ups.
“We are sticking with the majority of the side which has put together a string of performances for us so far in this tournament,” Gatland said.
“The one change which wasn't forced, in the second row, is based on the fact that Alun-Wyn Jones ran himself into the ground when we had 14 men against France.
“We face Australia back home at the Millennium Stadium in just over a month's time, and we are single-minded in our assertion that we want that homecoming to be a celebration of us achieving the status of one of the top three teams in the world.
“We have come a long way and put together a string of performances that the nation can be proud of so far in New Zealand.
“And we need to ensure that the history books reflect what we know we are capable of. And it is only by beating the Wallabies on Friday that we feel this will be achieved.”
Wales are already guaranteed their most successful World Cup campaign since the inaugural 1987 tournament in New Zealand. On that occasion they beat Australia to finish third.