Wales made history by becoming the first team in the Six Nations era to win four Grand Slams and skipper Alun Wyn Jones claims the success stems from the confidence of coach Warren Gatland.
Gatland also made his own bit of history as Wales brilliantly beat Ireland 25-7 at Principality Stadium to complete a perfect 2019 Guinness Six Nations – now the only coach in Championship history to lead a side to three Grand Slams.
The 2019 effort adds to the 2008 and 2012 successes, as Gatland ended his final Guinness Six Nations in charge of Wales in perfect fashion – Hadleigh Parkes’ early try and 20 points from the boot of Gareth Anscombe completing a dominant performance.
And Jones was full of praise for the New Zealander after his 12 years at the helm.
“Warren has been pretty prolific,” said Jones during the post-match press conference at Principality Stadium. “I don’t want to be too romantic about it with him sitting here but he alluded to the fact that when you’ve got someone so confident at the top of the tree, that filters down and it’s hard to ignore.
“It’s easy to say off the back of a win but we’ve come under some pressure over the years, when it has been backs against the wall and it takes a certain type of character to come through the mire. He’s pretty much the guy who has done that.
“He can’t take his foot off the gas yet but the record speaks for itself – three Grand Slams and a Championship.”
Jones is in a better position than most to comment on Gatland’s impact, the lock having been involved in all three of his Grand Slam campaigns.
The 33-year-old is now one of the experienced old heads in the Wales dressing room – with 134 international caps under his belt – and says the 2019 Guinness Six Nations will always hold a special place in his heart.
“This Grand Slam would definitely be up there for me,” he added. “I’ve been very fortunate to be involved with three.
“I don’t know if I’m getting soft in my old age or if it’s because I’ve got kids now but when you see young men come into the side and grow over an eight-week period, you feel proud.
“I’m really proud for such a small nation to be able to do that. Proud is the word – for everything we represent, from our country to our families, we just try to show that.
“The message before the game was very simple – be proud of what you represent, who you are and where you’re from. If you work hard enough, you get your rewards.”
And Gatland himself admitted that the prospect of winning a Grand Slam spurred his troops on just that little bit more in Cardiff.
“It was a great performance,” said Gatland. “The boys thoroughly deserve it – it’s about them and their families today, creating history.
“Emotion plays a huge amount in big games like this. We knew we were playing for first or third and that has a significant impact – those small percentages make a difference.
“You’re at home, there’s a tidal wave of support behind you and getting off to a good start was great.”