Warren Gatland has dubbed Wales’ first-half display in the Six Nations loss to Scotland as one of the most dismal halves in his illustrious 30-year coaching journey.
The Welsh team found themselves trailing 20-0 at halftime, witnessing a daunting deficit of 27 points within the initial 43 minutes.
However, an electrifying second-half resurgence saw the hosts mount a remarkable comeback, ultimately falling short by just one point in a gripping encounter.
“I think I have got to apologise for the first half,” Gatland told S4C.
“It’s probably one of the worst 40-minute performances in my whole rugby career as a coach.
“We were terrible, shocking. The discipline was poor, and we didn’t nail some things.”
Gatland added: “The message at half-time was to do what we wanted to do in the first, bring some tempo, play with a bit of intensity and play some rugby, nothing flashy,”
“I think some guys came off the bench and had some impact, we were so slow in the first half, things like opportunities for quick taps to get us back in the game.
“The players should be disappointed with the first half but proud for the second half, they didn’t throw the towel in and could have won the game.
“To do what we did, be 27-0 down, other teams might have shown less character and start thinking about next week, even throw in the towel.
“We didn’t do that. They kept fighting and put themselves in a position to win. That showed real character”
Every nations best and worst player in opening round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations
We’ve decided to give everybody a little review of the opening weekend of the 2023 Six Nation by deciding who has been each nations best and worst player.
Best: Uini Atonio
Rugby Pass 6.5/10: “The big man did the business in the scrums giving Porter a torrid time and winning a couple of penalties. Effective in the defence where just standing there is enough to create the impression there is a blue wall erected on the pitch.”
Telegraph 8/10: “France’s leading light. Some of the defensive shots were thunderous – and legal – and his scrummaging was faultless.”
Worst: Paul Willemse
Rugby Pass 1/10: “Got one point for running onto the pitch because after that it was a disaster for the lock forward. Lucky to get a yellow for his hit on Andrew Porter, he didn’t learn his lesson after 10 minutes contemplation and another hit to the head of an opponent, he left the referee with no option but to end his contest. Dumb.”
Planet Rugby 2/10: ““How do you want us to tackle?” were the words the second-rower asked before being issued his second yellow card and subsequent red. The answer is simple: lower Paul, lower.”
Telegraph 1/10: “The first hit was silly enough but to commit exactly the same offence six minutes after returning to the field, after a get-out-jail-free card, bordered on lunacy. France’s hopes of victory departed with him.”
Best: Joe McCarthy
Telegraph 9/10: “Tenacious and towering on Six Nations debut. A man possessed at lock with a phenomenal future ahead. One careless dropped pass the only blot.”
Rugby Dump 9/10: “Mark these words: McCarthy will be the building block of the Irish pack for the next decade. The 22-year-old obliterated his French counterparts and was deservedly named player of the match, his carrying ability was off the charts.”
Rugby Pass 8.5/10: “A revelation in the second row, the Leinsterman’s athleticism and physicality were a pivotal part of the Irish effort. Ran out of steam in the second half.”
Worst: Andrew Porter
Telegraph 6/10: “The effort could not be faulted and certainly he remains one of the world’s best but Atonio, then Aldegheri, troubled him.”
Planet Rugby 5/10: “For all his excellence around the park, he is still a liability in the scrums and was taught another lesson from Uini Atonio, who dominated him in the set-piece. Ticked the boxes in open play but not in the scrum.”