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Wales Online
Tom Coleman

Today's rugby news as Wales coach admits it's 'men against boys' as team destroyed on darkest night

Here's your round-up of all the latest rugby news for Monday, March 20.

Hayward - it was men against boys

Byron Hayward admits there's currently a chasm in quality between his side and their Six Nations rivals after watching Wales under-20s smashed to bits by France on Sunday night.

France ran in 11 tries as they rampaged their way to a 67-17 win, a result that condemned the Welsh to their first ever Wooden Spoon in this competition.

"You look at those two teams, and it was hard to believe they were the same age," Hayward said afterwards.

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"It really was men against boys due to the power, pace and execution. We spoke at half-time about trying to forget the first half, which we did.

"We came back into the game with two good tries, but nerves get to them and it's just where we're at, unfortunately.

"I think we've got a lot of answers from this Six Nations. We've got boys who can play and compete at this level and boys who are obviously finding it very difficult.

"Unfortunately, playing in a competition like our boys are playing in at the moment, we have to be realistic and it's not an excuse, but it's not up to the standard of what we see here tonight where we have boys playing Top 14 rugby week in week out. That's something we need to look to address.

"You look at Morgan Morse's performance tonight, he's barely 18. We need to be producing and developing more Morgan Morses and then we'll compete with these teams in the future.

"But at the moment, we're way off it."

North happy to make Shane sweat on try record

George North says he's hoping to make Shane Williams sweat on Wales's top try scorer record, but admits he's not sure whether he will remain in Gatland's long-term plans.

North recorded his 46th try on the international stage against France at the weekend, just 14 behind Williams in the all-time records for Welsh players.

“It’s been a long road and a tough road, but it’s something I’m very proud and honoured to have achieved," North said, after also moving into world rugby's top 10 try scorers.

Gatland had suggested this could be the last Six Nations campaign for up to eight members of his squad, but North insists there's seldom ever a time to take places for granted in this squad.

"Hopefully there’s a few more in me if I’m not part of the eight, it’s not ideal to lose a Test match but considering where we’ve been it’s a real positive going into the World Cup. I hope (Welsh record holder) Shane Williams is sweating but there’s a lot to go.

"I’m not sure if I made the cut or not but we’ll see," he said. "I don’t think it’s a (set) thing as such, any time you put the jersey on it could be your last game with performance, young boys coming through, injuries, so you have to take it with both hands."

The fans' Wales Six Nations verdict: Have your say

Dawson slams 'unacceptable' red card

Matt Dawson has launched a scathing broadside at referee Jaco Peyper for his decision to dismiss England's Freddie Steward during the Six Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin

Steward was shown a red card just before half-time for a collision with Ireland's Hugo Keenan, a decision Dawson has labelled as 'unacceptable'.

In his latest BBC column, Dawson wrote: "It was a disgraceful decision. Keenan had bent down to pick up a loose ball. Anyone who has played rugby knows exactly what was going through Steward's mind in that moment.

"What is really disappointing is that none of the officials even got close to discussing whether Steward was trying to pull out of the situation.

"All the focus was on the slow-motion point of contact, which, by the letter of the law, led to a red card.

"Just because it is the letter of the law does not make it right. They are the laws that some people have created and on this occasion there was a glaring glitch.

"Laws around dangerous contact are increasingly strict to protect players from brain injuries. I am never going to jeopardise the health of players within the sport.

"However, the game that we play is a contact sport. If you think that you are not going to come across some kind of serious collision in the game of rugby union you should not play it."

Hansen: 'I don't hate the English'

Mack Hansen believes the motivational skills of Andy Farrell are unrivalled and sensed Ireland's stunning Grand Slam success was on the cards as soon as he entered the international scene.

Australia-born wing Hansen was among a host of standout performers in the green jersey during an unforgettable Guinness Six Nations which climaxed with a thrilling 29-16 Dublin victory over England.

The 24-year-old, who only made his Test debut in last year's Triple Crown-winning campaign after swapping Canberra-based club Brumbies for Connacht in 2021, claimed three of his side's 20 tries across the championship.

His all-action displays were a constant threat for opponents, while his entertaining media interviews also garnered plenty of attention after he swore on television following the round-three win in Italy and then claimed "everybody hates England" ahead of Saturday's finale.

Hansen paid tribute to Wigan-born head coach Farrell after the team backed up his long-held belief that lifting significant silverware was achievable.

"It wasn't in my mind at all (when I moved to Ireland) but as soon as I was put into this team I knew that it was a thing that could happen," he said of the Six Nations clean sweep.

"They are just such good lads in the team, just full credit to the boys.

"All the coaches (deserve credit) but Andy, he can just get you up for a game like no other. He just seems to say all of the right things and it just sounds cooler in his accent as well.

"I don't actually hate English people for anybody who saw that headline that was spread! I'm just putting that out there - just in case Andy saw it as well."


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