Warren Gatland lauds fantastic Wales after Grand Slam glory

Warren Gatland lauds fantastic Wales after Grand Slam glory

Wales boss Warren Gatland hailed players who “will run through a brick wall for you” after they demolished Ireland 25-7 to be crowned Six Nations Grand Slam champions.

Wales made it 14 games unbeaten and gave head coach Gatland a record third clean sweep in his final Six Nations game at the helm.

An outstanding Gareth Anscombe kicked 20 points – six penalties and the conversion of centre Hadleigh Parkes’ second-minute try – to sink Ireland in swirling rain under leaden skies on an afternoon when the visitors insisted the Principality Stadium roof remained open.

It was a memorable day for Warren Gatland (David Davies/PA)
It was a memorable day for Warren Gatland (David Davies/PA)

Wales climbed above Ireland to hold second spot in rugby’s official world rankings, and they will head to the World Cup in Japan later this year – Gatland’s swansong – as major title contenders.

“This group of players will run through a brick wall for you,” Gatland said.

“I am excited for the World Cup because you get two or three months together and you can prepare like a club side.

“You can go into a lot of skill development and really fine-tune your game. From that point of view, we will be in great shape.

Jonathan Davies celebrates (David Davies/PA)
Jonathan Davies celebrates (David Davies/PA)

“In our previous two World Cups (Gatland was in charge of), we were one of the fittest teams in the World Cup.

“We will be in good shape for this one as well.”

Gatland predicted that Wales would win the Grand Slam if they beat France in their opening match, and they fought back from 16 points adrift to win that game.

Six weeks later, they led 16-0 at half time and dominated Ireland in a way rarely seen against Joe Schmidt’s team during recent seasons.

I am excited for the World Cup because you get two or three months together and you can prepare like a club side

Gatland added: “It’s nice when predictions come true, isn’t it?

“I’ve got to have that belief and self-confidence in us, and if I can portray that on to the players in some small way then hopefully they can believe it as well.

“It was a great performance today. The boys thoroughly deserve it. Creating history and winning Grand Slams are things nobody can ever take away from you.

“I thought they were exceptional in the way they managed the game. Our physicality nullified what have been Ireland’s strengths in scrum, lineout and runners off nine.

Gareth Anscombe was fantastic for Wales (Adam Davy/PA)
Gareth Anscombe was fantastic for Wales (Adam Davy/PA)

“Our turnover rate, compared to them, gave us that dominance, particularly in that first half

“Emotion plays a huge part in big games like that. For our group of players, they knew they were playing for first or third place.

“The Irish players probably didn’t expect England to lose to Scotland, so in their heads they were playing for second or third. That has a significant impact in those small percentages.

“You are at home, there is a tidal wave of support behind you, and it built.

“I will miss the atmosphere of a full house, coming in on the bus, the fans and the celebrations afterwards.

Warren Gatland says he will miss the Wales fans (David Davies/PA)
Warren Gatland says he will miss the Wales fans (David Davies/PA)

“I think I will enjoy that (winning three Grand Slams) afterwards, but the game is always about the players, and we stress that.”

Ireland were washed away as Wales completed a first Six Nations clean sweep for seven years – a tournament record fourth Grand Slam – and landed their first Six Nations title since 2013,

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said: “We are managing games better and working on these things. Belief is something you have to earn, and we are doing that.

“We have put a big target on our back for a lot of other teams, and you have to be comfortable with the pressure that comes with that.”

Jones continued: “I’m very fortunate to have been involved in two previous Grand Slams.

Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones is presented with the trophy (David Davies/PA)
Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones is presented with the trophy (David Davies/PA)

“When you see young men come into the side and see them grow over an eight or nine-week period…  I can’t tell these guys what to do, given the way they are performing.

“I’ve been involved in regional rugby and all its deficiencies, but it must be doing something right, because these guys are doing a job.

“I’m just really proud for such a small nation to be able to do that. It’s very simple, and that was the message before the game, to be proud and represent who you are.”

On his coach, he added: “He has been pretty prolific, not just with Wales but with the other red jersey (British and Irish Lions) as well.

“He has got a bit left on his contract, so he can’t take his foot off the gas yet. But his record speaks for itself – three Grand Slams.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

‘We have got our little wake-up call,’ says Best of Six Nations downturn‘We have got our little wake-up call,’ says Best of Six Nations downturn

McNamara’s mantra: Failure is never fatal, it’s how you react to itMcNamara’s mantra: Failure is never fatal, it’s how you react to it

Noel backs return to Cork for U20 sideNoel backs return to Cork for U20 side

Anscombe hopeful Wales can keep their winning habit going at the World CupAnscombe hopeful Wales can keep their winning habit going at the World Cup

More in this Section

Bennett bids to bring hot streak into Vuelta debutBennett bids to bring hot streak into Vuelta debut

Roger Federer feeling better than ever heading into US OpenRoger Federer feeling better than ever heading into US Open

Wolves boss Nuno dismisses burnout fears amid busy scheduleWolves boss Nuno dismisses burnout fears amid busy schedule

Anna O’Flanagan hits crucial winner as Ireland get vital win over BelgiumAnna O’Flanagan hits crucial winner as Ireland get vital win over Belgium


Lifestyle

IF you are the parent of a child who is about to venture forth into the hallowed halls of Primary education, or ‘Big School’ as every Irish mammy refers to it since the dawn of time; well, chances are you’ve probably been very active in your Google searches looking for tips and advice on how to ease your child, and yourself, into this next chapter.Out of curiosity, I searched online for ‘Back to school advice’

More From The Irish Examiner