Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones revealed a half-time decision to go back to basics prompted his side’s dramatic opening night win over France in Paris.
Heading into the 2019 Guinness Six Nations in a rich vein of form, Wales trailed by 16 points at half-time to their dominant hosts after tries from Louis Picamoles and Yoann Huget.
The second period was a vastly different affair, however, with Warren Gatland’s men roaring back to win 24-19 and complete the biggest turnaround in Welsh rugby history.
And despite their poor start, Jones claimed the visitors were always confident of overturning the deficit as long as they focused on the fundamentals.
“We were very well aware of what we hadn’t done in the first half,” he said in the post-match press conference. “We probably realised that we were going to have to start playing without the ball – we did that and got opportunities from the pressure we were putting on.
“In both halves we were pretty pleased as a forward pack with the platform – it was just the errors off that compounding the frustration.
“We knew we had 40 minutes to put that right. Had we not taken the opportunity early in the second half, we probably would have felt the fear a bit but we are very fortunate that we put the pressure on and got that.
“A 16-point swing doesn’t usually happen in international rugby but we were able to get that snowball effect and chase down the deficit.
“It’s a cliché that we were always going to win but we were well aware that if we got the opportunity we were going to get close enough.”
Speaking after the game, head coach Gatland also suggested that Wales had become a side that had almost forgotten how to lose – and one that had preyed on fragile confidence in the home camp.
Tomos Williams kickstarted the turnaround before try-scorer Huget’s spill shortly after allowed George North to haul Wales back into the game. A late intercept try from the winger then secured the comeback victory.
Gatland said: “For me at the moment, the biggest difference between the two teams is that we’ve become a side that has probably forgotten how to lose and can dig deep like that.
“On the other foot, they are a team searching for some confidence having not had a great run in the last seven or eight matches.
“To win this Championship you need a little bit of luck. We saw that last year with Johnny Sexton kicking that drop goal in the last minute in a game that France probably should have won.”