DOWN, BUT NOT out. Jamie Roberts is confident that Wales can bounce back from their comprehensive 26-3 defeat to Ireland on Saturday by beating France in round three of the Six Nations.
Warren Gatland’s men lost on the opening day of the 2013 version of the European tournament, but went on to claim their second successive title the following month. Now Roberts is planning on something similar happening.
“We lost one game last year and still won the championship. We have to beat France; that’s the next big target. Everything will go into that 80 minutes. There’ll be no excuses from there on in.
We’ll accept we were beaten by a better team. Ireland were very good in every facet of play and dominated us. It’s back to the drawing board to try to rectify things in a couple of weeks’ time. Don’t worry; we’ll come out hammer and tongs against France in Cardiff.”
In the immediate aftermath of the clash in Dublin, the outstanding Peter O’Mahony suggested that Ireland “wanted it more than they did,” highlighting his own side’s desire to fight hard for every 50/50 ball against the physically powerful Welsh.
However, Roberts believes that assertion was wide of the mark.
“You always go into a game of rugby wanting it, so to hear those comments is quite frustrating. Each one of us wanted it, we just weren’t good enough. It’s disappointing. We came here hoping to win, hoping to beat Ireland on their own turf, but we haven’t played well enough.”
Roberts’ effect on the game was limited by the excellent defence of Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
Instead, the Racing Métro centre believes it was technical and tactical issues that let the Welsh down, particularly at the set-piece. Roberts underlined that he was not going to “point fingers at forwards,” but admitted that the scrum and line-out had been major problems.
Wales have lost many games when it’s been the fault of the backs. You win and lose as a team and it’s important we share the blame amongst this team. That’s a big ethos of what we’re about. We won’t place blame on individuals whether we win or lose as a team. Collectively, we weren’t good enough.”
Gatland will ensure that Roberts and his teammates immediately turn their focus to the challenge of hosting France on the 21st of this month at the Millennium Stadium. Roberts again stresses that Wales have everything to play for.
“We weren’t good enough to win and it’s very disappointing and very frustrating and very hard to take. But that’s sport, that’s the way it is. It’s important now we analyse that and bounce back. That’s the great thing about this tournament; you have a chance very soon to rectify things, but we know we have to win our next game.
“Ireland have won two from two and will be delighted, but it’s a long tournament with many twists and turns, which is the beauty of the Six Nations. We’ve lost one game, but we can still win the tournament.”