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Mike, Mark, Gareth and I are still smarting from that result on Saturday, like most of the rest of you, I suspect. I think what rankles the most is that the best team on the pitch didn’t ultimately run out winners. Wales played the better rugby and left France unsettled again and again.
That’s why that narrow, one point, victory feels really cruel. Particularly when Wales, through fantastic build-up play from the likes of Toby Faletau and another brilliant finish from Mike Phillips, bagged the only try of the game.
If we’re a bit downhearted, then just imagine how the boys in Auckland feel. Sam Warburton will be re-playing that tackle in his mind for the next few days. It was a huge blow to lose the talismanic skipper, and the general agreement seems to be that Alain Rolland isn’t going to top most Christmas card lists here in Wales anytime soon. Equally James Hook will be fuming over his missed kicks, Stephen Jones frustrated about being so close on that conversion and Leigh Halfpenny still wondering what more he had to do to get that penalty over.
It’ll give us all plenty to talk about for days to come but if the messages I’m seeing on Twitter are anything to go by, then Wales will come home to a very warm welcome….and quite rightly. They’ve entertained us with consistent, first class rugby and impressed us with their professionalism away from the pitch, particularly Sam himself. This is a squad which, like the good wine he’s eschewed since the Six Nations, looks like becoming even finer with age. And, while it may not be the final, there’s still the third place play-off on Friday, where Wales can and, I’m sure, will prove that they can cut it time and again in the top tier of the game.
So while the boys and myself, as well as the top team we’ve had in and around studio and on the outside broadcasts, went home feeling a bit flatter than when the alarm went off at 5am on Saturday, it’ll be just a temporary malaise. Why am I so sure? Well as Welsh rugby fans we have, in the immortal words of Colin Charvis, ‘bouncebackability’ in our very DNA. And Warren Gatland’s Wales are sure to give us something to smile about in the not too distant future – and that’s a safe bet! Good Luck for Friday Wales and look forward to seeing you soon.