Special Envoy to Lyon
- World Cup 2023: Schedule and results
- World Cup 2023: rankings by Pools
Beware of the Sleeping Leek
With three wins in three matches, Wales are quietly heading for top spot in Group D. Who would have bet on that, in March, when Dan Biggar's teammates were corrected at the stage of France by the Blues (41-28) and finished second last in the Six Nations Tournament for the second year in a row? Or in August when they suffered the South African law (16-52) in a warm-up match? Back at the helm at the beginning of the year after a first long stint between 2007 and 2019, Warren Gatland has been able to turn the situation around, and breathe new life into this aging team. Since its first complicated but finally improved success against Fiji, the Leek XV is growing in power. How far can it go?
Beyond success... A record
Wales have just recorded the largest victory in their history against Australia (34 points difference). It is also, after the group match of the 2019 World Cup won 29 to 25, the second consecutive success in the World Cup for the XV of the Leek against this opponent. The Wallabies had won 16 of the last 20 encounters. And including a spectacular test-match in November 2022 (39-34). Reversal of hierarchy?
Jac Morgan as Fantastic Captain
24 years old, 14 small caps, and already captain of Wales. The Ospreys third line delivered a full game, in defense, where he distinguished himself by an omnipresence in the tackle, as in attack. Launched by Biggar at the very beginning of the match, he manages to break a tackle and pass to Gareth Davies who only has to go for the try (7th). Also in the first half, following a touch stolen by the Welsh line-up, the flanker found an incredible 50-22 thanks to a mammoth kick, almost in his 22 meters (26th). The icing on the cake, he went with his own try at the very end of the match (78th) after a nice ball carried. With Jac Morgan as leader of his troops, the Leek XV can look to the future serenely.
Red tide over Lyon
After the green tide on Paris on Saturday night on the sidelines of South Africa-Ireland, Lyon experienced a flood of supporters dressed in red. Gathering in bars, squares and around Groupama Stadium, the Welsh gave voice all day to encourage their team. In the afternoon, the Place Antonin-Poncet, which adjoins the famous Place Bellecour, was even transformed into a giant choir. Thousands of fans gathered there to sing in chorus. The fervour did not diminish once the match started, and Warren Gatland's men were able to enjoy support at all times.
Historic disappointment for the Wallabies
Before this 2023 edition, Australia has played in nine World Cups, won two (1991, 1999), and has never failed to get out of its pool. Soon ancient history. This resounding defeat to Wales extinguished hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals. The Wallabies no longer have their destiny in hand: only a misstep of Fiji against Portugal or Georgia would allow them to avoid a premature exit. Legend Tim Horan, a two-time world champion, warned his successors: "Not qualifying for the quarter-finals of the World Cup would have serious consequences." His message was not heard. Many Australian fans left the stands five minutes from the end of the match. Disappointed.
Australian openers at the bottom of the hole
Starting in the last five matches but strongly criticized, the young Australian opener Carter Gordon (22) started this match on the bench. His successor, fullback Ben Donaldson, unfortunately did not fare much better. He made a beautiful feint in the first half to pierce the Welsh curtain but lacked lucidity behind to transmit his ball cleanly (17th). He gradually lost the keys to the Wallabies' game, sending a dismissal directly to the touch (39th). Replaced early in the second half by Carter Gordon, who was mainly illustrated by a missed penalty (76th) while his team already had its head under water. Eddie Jones and his staff have not found the solution to a position where the experience of Bernard Foley or Quade Cooper might have been good.
The men of the South have missed almost everything
Surprised by Fiji last Sunday in Saint-Etienne, Australia hoped to improve in physical impact, discipline and ruck areas to beat Wales. Unfortunately, in the rucks, it was Will Rowlands' teammates who ruled the way. And the Wallabies were once again penalized too much (12 times). Not to mention an offensive game too uncreative and inspired to hope to cross the Welsh fortress.
Dan Biggar out on injury
The RC Toulon opener had only seven minutes to illuminate Groupama Stadium with his talent. It was he who found the space on Gareth Davies' try with a nice inside shed. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder a few minutes later by tackling in extremis Richie Arnold who was shooting in the goal (11th). Wales lost their most capped player (111 caps) and an outstanding goalscorer. For how long? The exams will tell. Entering in his place, Gareth Anscombe rather assured against the poles, missing only one penalty (19th) and a conversion (79th). He especially delivered a love kick on Tompkins' try (48th) and passed a drop late in the match (70th). Voted man of the match.