Wales considered faking injuries
October 18, 2011
Gatland considered cheating to level France semi
Wales coach Warren Gatland has admitted he considered faking injuries to force uncontested scrums during his side's Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat to France.
Gatland's side lost starting tight-head Adam Jones to a calf injury during their narrow 9-8 loss at Eden Park on Saturday night and were forced to play with 14-men following the sending off of flanker Sam Warburton midway through the first half. Replacement prop Paul James filled the void in the front row but an injury to him or loose-head Gethin Jenkins would have led to uncontested scrums.
Such a scenario would have been hugely beneficial to Wales who were forced to add centre Jamie Roberts to their scrum when they did not choose to pack down with seven players.
"We'd already lost Adam Jones, and we discussed in the box, did we fake an injury to one of our props to go to uncontested scrums?" said Gatland, whose side face Australia in the bronze medal match on Friday night. "But morally, I made the decision that was not the right thing to do.
"We could have easily done that in the first 25-30 minutes. But in the spirit of the game, in the spirit of the World Cup semi-final, I didn't think that was the fairest or the right thing to do."
The discussions came in the wake of Warburton's sending off - a decision that still disappoints Gatland.
"I know a lot has been spoken about the red card," Gatland said. "In retrospect, I can understand in any game under the letter of the law there are a number of decisions referees can make. I just thought on that occasion, given the significance of a World Cup semi-final, to give a yellow card would have been an appropriate decision. That is why they are appointed as the top referees in the world, because they make the right decisions.
"You have to take the circumstances of the situation and the intent, and in that situation, given his experience and the role he was given, a yellow card was the right decision to make."
Gatland's team must now focus on their third-place playoff with Australia on Friday. And the Wales coach admits he and his team face a mighty task in putting the disappointing defeat to France behind them.
"We feel pretty hollow with what happened last week, so it's going to be a test of character of this side to get themselves up for Friday," Gatland added. "We feel very hollow and very empty about what happened against France and pretty unfulfilled, really. We felt like the better team is not in the final of the World Cup.
"We feel like we've shown a lot of character, we feel like we've played some great rugby since we've been here. If this team goes out (on Friday) and performs like we're capable of doing, we will leave here with our heads held high having earned a lot of respect."
Friday's game could mark the end of Wales' record international try-scorer Shane Williams' Test career. Williams has said on several occasions that he was considering stepping down after the World Cup, although no firm decision has yet been announced.
Gatland added: "He has been an absolute superstar for Wales, one of the most exciting rugby players in the northern hemisphere. Whether this one is his last one or whether the next Australia one (on December 3 in Cardiff) is his last one, we're not too sure. There is definitely not that many to go anyway.
"He will make that decision himself. It's not something that I'm going to publicly come out and say 'he's not going to be selected in the future'."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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