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‘We couldn’t have shouted any louder but nobody wanted to listen!’ Defiant Wales answer autumn critics

As far as Wales are concerned, they couldn’t have been any clearer or shouted the message any louder.

The Autumn Nations Cup and the Six Nations were very different projects for them.

One was about building, one was about winning.

They took the flak while doing the former and they are now taking the plaudits for doing the latter.

While the autumn campaign brought four defeats in six matches – and a barrage of criticism – the Championship has delivered four straight wins.

Wales are now just one step away from the Grand Slam as they prepare to take on France in Paris on Saturday night.

You won’t hear them saying “We told you so” or claiming vindication for their strategy.

But it was certainly revealing to hear the thoughts of forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys on the subject.

“We kept on saying all the way through the autumn what the autumn was, but nobody wanted to listen,” said the former Wales skipper.

“I understand international rugby, but we took that tournament to be something else.

“We said – we couldn’t have shouted it any louder – this is about building depth. You have got to take what comes with that.

“Everything else that goes along with it outside is irrelevant really. You can’t control what is said outside.

“But we had believe within us that when we came to the Six Nations and picked our best available team that we would be very competitive.

“On top of that, the people that had the experience of playing in the autumn have been invaluable to us and allowed us to create momentum.

“If you look at the lineout, for example, in the autumn, we had four different callers, three different hookers.

“It was a process we wanted to go through to get to where we needed to be.”

That lineout is now functioning hugely effectively and has played a big part in Wales reeling off four successive Six Nations victories.

“This tournament was about winning. We never talked about anything else other than that,” said Humphreys.

“Obviously, it’s been good so far for us. Those first two games were massive in terms of momentum. We won them and it’s sort of grown from there.

“But it’s never been a feeling of ‘Oh great, that’s job done’.

“It’s always we need to be better to beat the next team and that’s the feeling we have now.”



Wales players pictured during the Autumn Nations Cup defeat to Ireland in November

So what’s the mood in the camp with the Grand Slam in their sights?

“There is a buzz about it, an excitement that we are in the hunt for a big prize,” said Humphreys.

“Games like this don’t come along very often. We are looking forward to going out there and having a crack at an extremely good team.

“So there’s excitement, but it’s very much contained by the fact we have a huge game in front of us and we need to be better than we have been in all the games before this.

“We believe we are going up against one of the best teams in the world and that we are going to have to be at our very, very best to get what we want from the weekend.

“France are an extremely physical team, the biggest pack that we are going to come up against, they are bigger than South Africa.

“The collisions are going to be massive in this game and France are incredibly dangerous.

“But there’s a huge amount of belief in our team and that’s a massive thing for us.”

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