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Wales ditch the agony for the ecstasy

25 Sep 2023 3 minute read
Richard celebrating in Ynyshir

Ben Wildsmith

If there’s a doctor reading this, I’d like to know if the calm. All Black fan-style experience I’ve just had as Wales romped to victory against Australia means that I get some life-expectancy back for all the times I’ve experienced carcinogenic levels of stress watching them over the last 50 years?

Jiffy’s ‘never in doubt’ quip when we nicked a last-second victory over France twenty odd years ago summed up nearly every high-stakes win we’ve had since: reliant on luck, in jeopardy throughout, and enjoyed as if we’ve been released from the jaws of a lion that can’t stomach the aftertaste of Brains SA.

Who knew that watching Wales in a make-or-break RWC tie with a southern hemisphere nation could be a serene experience?

‘I’ve cancelled your spa weekend, sweetie, Wales are playing Australia it’ll chill you right out.’

The Aussie Wildsmiths

This one was personal for me as I’ve recently been visited by the Australian branch of my family.

Naturally, I made a vehement effort to usher them towards the light with a tour of the Principality and an ideological re-education of which Chairman Mao would have approved. So, an Australian victory would have hit me particularly hard this time.

C’mon boys, you can capture my nephew for life if you pull this off!

The wringer

Like you, though, I expected to be put through the wringer once again. We’d start brightly, establish a lead, and then lose it in the dying seconds of the first half.

After the break, we’d drop the restart and concede three tries in 15 minutes before rallying in the last 20 but falling one point short of a losing bonus point and coming home to 483 articles about how the chickens had come home to roost as regards the WRU’s mismanagement of the professional game.

I wasn’t the only Welshman with a personal stake in this game, though. Gareth Davies’ humiliation at the hands of Margot Robbie in Barbie has clearly cut deeply.

Any notion that his job was ‘beach’ faded from global consciousness when he crashed over the Australian line with only seconds on the clock. Could he become a surgeon purely because he imagines it?

Nobody would bet against that outcome now.

I’m always a bit over-rapt, myself. I don’t possess the sang-froid to watch Wales play as a dispassionate reporter. Or, to be honest, as a normal human being, Every collision, front-row encounter, and Wayne Barnes thought process registers with me like a threat to my personal wellbeing.

My goodwill towards old Wayne has flourished this evening, though. I was impressed at how his understanding of the game seemed to improve once our utter supremacy rendered the rules a mere sideshow to Josh Adams’ emergence as the Bully XL of Australian nightmares.

And this is where tonight’s performance really hit the spot for me. Whether in defence or attack, the Welsh pack seemed to advance and that bought us the right to go wide if something looked on.

We’ve always had good wingers, but the Gerald/JJ double-trauma fear hasn’t inhabited our opponents for a while. Give either the ball, and something destructive will ensue.

So, how are you going to approach the quarter-final of a world cup when we are expected to win it? It’s a new one on me, and my nephew.


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