The kicking game
February 2, 1963
Clive Rowlands: "I was never at any time tempted to open the game up and let my backs make the running"
© PA Photos
Wales recorded their first win at Murrayfield in a decade on an afternoon dominated by war of attrition between two impressive forward lines on a bitterly cold afternoon. In the end a drop-goal from Clive Rowlands and a penalty from Grahame Hodgeson was enough to give Wales the victory.
The most remarkable statistic of the afternoon was that there were 111 line-outs - 55 in the first half, 56 in the second - surprisingly not a record as there were supposedly 114 in first ever match between New Zealand and South Africa at Dunedin in 1921. It was estimated that 38 of the 80 minutes was spent preparing for or taking line-outs.
The teams arrived in Edinburgh for their second match of the Five Nations after surprising opening games. Scotland, thanks to their dominating forwards, had won in Paris while Wales had lost to England in Cardiff on a day memorable for the remarkable efforts to remove snow from a pitch which remained frozen.
It had been thought Scotland would try to use their forward power while Wales would run the ball. In fact, Wales opted to take Scotland on at their own game. The Times reported that 'Not once in the match did the ball reach the centres direct from the stand-off". David Watkins, playing outside-half, had the perfectly reasonable alibi that he touched the ball only five times :"Once to collect the Scottish kick-off, twice to pick up their grub-kicks ahead, and twice only to catch passes from my scrum-half".
Hodgeson opened the scoring after quarter of an hour with a penalty after Scotland had strayed off side. Ken Scotland had two chances to level but missed with both, the second striking an upright, while the game became no more than a succession of kicks to touch. Rowlands drop goal from a tight angle 15 minutes into the second half was the only other score.
As Wales celebrated many were left unimpressed. In the Daily Express, Pat Marshall concluded: This was power-Rugby, brutally bludgeoned up and down the touchlines by two brutish packs with kicking scrum halves yapping at their heels. It has no part in the pattern of British rugby where quickness of wit and fleetness of foot still counts for more than brawn supported by an educated boot. Rowlands won a tactical victory, but it was no victory for rugby."
But for all the criticism of Wales, Scotland, until a belated flurry in the final quarter, did not try to play a more open game either, nor were they starved of the ball. They won 25 scrums to 13, including three to one against the head, and a far from disastrous 30 line-outs to Wales's 37, with 44 degenerating into mauls.
Rowlands was cheerfully unrepentant :"No, I was never at any time tempted to open the game up and let my backs make the running. That's what Scotland were praying we'd do".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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