• Wales coach aggrieved by late penalty for France
• Pivac: ‘You’ve got to go with the team with forward motion’
Wayne Pivac counted the cost of Wales’s first home defeat in the Six Nations for three years and their first against France in 10. Wales lost George North to his latest head injury after only 10 minutes, a loss compounded when Josh Adams, Wales’s other wing, limped off with an ankle injury five minutes from time.
“George failed his head injury assessment and will go through the usual protocols,” said Pivac. “We’ll have to check on Josh in the next day or two.”
This was not only a first home defeat for Pivac’s Wales but a second defeat in his first three games. Most of the marginal calls, of which there were several, went against the home side. Pivac rued the interception that ultimately decided the contest, just as Wales had worked their way back into the game with a try early in the second half, but it was a penalty France were awarded late in the game that irked him most.
“[Replacement tighthead Demba Bamba] came straight across the scrum and was rewarded for it, unfortunately. Our scrums had gone OK up to that point. You’ve got to go with [the team with] forward motion. He clearly went across the scrum.”
Another turning point was the knock-on of Paul Willemse that preceded the siege of scrums lifted by that penalty in Bamba’s favour. The verdict was that it was accidental. “There was a slap-down,” insisted Pivac.
“We had a good look at that one. I think the officials may have got that one wrong. So there’s momentum there as well. Those were big moments in the game.”
Raphaël Ibañez inevitably has a different opinion on that late scrum penalty, all the more so after comments from the Wales camp in the week predicting some French skulduggery at scrum time. “We can be really proud of the fact we have a very young front row that stepped up under pressure,” said France’s manager. “We let Wales do the talking. You don’t need to talk too much to scrummage properly.”
In a further twist of satisfaction for the French, Ibanez’s old coach at Wasps, Shaun Edwards, helped to mastermind this win for France over the team with whom he spent so many glorious years. “It was an awesome performance from our defence. We are really pleased to have Shaun Edwards with us. Fans want to see a French team delivering for 80 minutes. We are going to work even harder now because winning is a good habit.”
If France can keep the habit up for just two more games, they will have a first grand slam for 10 years. They may yet be building, finally, a team worthy of hosting the next edition of the World Cup.