Excluding France and Scotland, whose game was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp, the remainder of the teams have crossed the halfway point of this year’s Six Nations, and it certainly hasn’t been short of surprises thus far. In fact, if you told any rugby fan prior to the tournament that Wales would be top of the table at this stage, you most likely would have been laughed out of the room (or Zoom).
Yet, that is the position Wayne Pivac’s side find themselves in, and they are now hot on the heels of Les Bleus in the betting on sites like Betdaq. Given how Pivac’s first 12 months in his role as Wales’ head coach went, which included just a sole victory over whipping boys Italy in last year’s Six Nations, it was no surprise that the Welsh were in double-figure odds to win the tournament. However, they are now as short as 5/4.
Even when they stunned Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on the opening weekend, Scotland’s win over England at Twickenham overshadowed their triumph and people were questioning whether Gregor Townsend’s team could go on and win the Six Nations rather than whether Wales could challenge for the title.
That was probably largely down to the fact that Scotland’s win over Eddie Jones’ men was more convincing, whilst Wales scrapped past Ireland, who were down to 14 men for much of the game. Add to that the fact that Wales had to travel to Murrayfield in gameweek 2 with Scotland seemingly on a high, it was fair to suggest that Scotland were more likely to go on and challenge than Wales.
However, Pivac’s side went to Edinburgh and, in similar style to the game against Ireland, they scrapped a victory over the Scots, beating them by a just a single point in the 25-24 victory. But it was their Triple Crown-winning victory over England that is the most shocking of all thus far.
The game was somewhat marred by controversial refereeing decisions, but the Welsh players wouldn’t have cared as the hefty 40-24 victory in Cardiff secured their second Triple Crown in three years and set them on course for the Grand Slam.
Up next for Pivac and his men is a trip to Rome to take on Italy at the Stadio Olmpico. Even for a Welsh side out of form, like the one we saw last year, this game would be a walk in the park. So, Wales should be able to win this game without even breaking a sweat.
It is their last game that is cause for concern for the Welsh support, however. Wales travel to Paris to take on the French in what could be the Grand Slam deciding game. A victory for Pivac’s side would of course secure the sought-after Grand Slam. Although, there is a good chance that the tournament might not be decided on the day.
Should Wales lose, and with France’s rearranged fixture against Scotland set not to take place until the end of March at the earliest, then the Six Nations may not be concluded until the outcome of the postponed fixture. However, Wales will need to work on their points difference in the game against Italy if they are to rely on the Scots beating France, as at the time of writing Fabien Galthié’s side’s is much greater.
The Six Nations title is still firmly in France’s favour, but given the surprises that Wales have sprung already this year, you simple can’t rule out Pivacy’s men.