Almost forgotten in the swirl of opinion following Italy’s novel approach to England’s powerful rucking on Sunday, was the suggested overruling of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones by his team-mates regarding a crucial penalty decision against Scotland on Saturday.
Trailing the hosts in Murrayfield 16-13, Wales were awarded a penalty on the 51 minute mark, in a position far over towards the touchline, inside the Scotland half.
Initially it appeared that Jones chose to go for three points with a tricky kick for the posts. Instead however, Dan Biggar chose to kick for the corner and go for broke.
It was a choice that failed to reward however, as the resulting line-out came to nothing and Scotland ran out emphatic winners.
Focus following the game fell back on the incident surrounding Jones’ choice to kick at goal. at the time it appeared as if perhaps Biggar had overruled his captain, something that you simply do not see in the professional game.
Now, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, 27-year-old Biggar has categorically denied any overruling of his captain occurred.
“The bottom line is Leigh has held his hands up and said he didn’t fancy the kick. It was a tough day and a tough kick.
“If if it was on the 22 and bang in front (of the posts) I wouldn’t have asked Al.
“As it was on the touchline I’ve asked the question about whether to go for the corner.
“It was a very amicable chat and for me it was never about overruling the captain.
“It’s been a pretty hurtful couple of days. It’s not nice being questioned about whether you’ve overruled the captain, let alone it being someone like Alun Wyn who I’ve huge respect for.”
Leigh Halfpenny similarly insisted there was no overruling of Jones and accepts he was not on top of his game in Wales’ first defeat to Scotland since 2007.
“For me, I need to hold my hand up. I made a mistake and I wasn’t decisive enough.
“Alun Wyn wanted to go for the three points and I’ve allowed errors in my game before and the conditions to influence me and turn down the kick.
“I should have parked those mistakes and moved on.
“In the past I have made errors and not allowed those to affect me and moved on to the next job.
“It’s probably the first time it has happened but it’s the last time it will.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played at Murrayfield when it’s not been difficult conditions.
“The wind really picks up and it is up there with one of the most difficult stadiums to kick in, but that shouldn’t have an influence on decisions if a kick is in range.
“For me it’s a privileged position to (be) backed to be the kicker, I’m excited to get back out there, get the tee in my hand and go from there.”
Now with little more than pride to fight for, Wales face Ireland next on March 10th in the Principality Stadium. With British and Irish Lions places still up for grabs, there is much to fight for on a personal level for the Welsh players.
Biggar, Halfpenny and co. will be seeking to bounce back to their best in front of what will surely be a raucous home crowd at the Friday night clash.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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