'I'm just really proud to be a Welshman'
March 16, 2013
Wales celebrate Alex Cuthbert's second score © Getty Images
Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley described his side's sensational 30-3 victory over England in their Six Nations title showdown in Cardiff as the best day his coaching life.
Two tries from winger Alex Cuthbert propelled the hosts to a record winning margin over England whose hopes of a first Grand Slam since 2003 were left in tatters on a memorable day at the Millennium Stadium. Leigh Halfpenny kicked four penalties while fly-half Dan Biggar added a penalty, a drop goal and a conversion with England's reply a solitary kick from Owen Farrell.
Howley, Wales interim head coach in the absence of British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland, said: "I'm just really proud to be a Welshman this evening. The intensity of that Test match was probably up there with the best intensity the players have had this season, probably is the best.
"It was difficult for England, they had a six-day turnaround. They are a very good team and I've got huge respect for their players and coaches. They are in our World Cup group and it's something which we are very mindful of. It's probably the best day of my coaching career to be honest."
Howley expects many of his players to have attracted the attention of Gatland who will announce his Lions squad next month. Howley said: "It's just believing in the way you want to play the game, believing in the players, the unity and cohesion within the camp is so important.
"I thought the performances of Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton were outstanding. Sam showed outstanding ball-carrying ability as well as pressure on the ball, and I think Tipuric is a very clever, astute rugby player who puts players into space.
"As a coach you get it wrong some times and I probably got it wrong against Ireland. But today it worked and I'm delighted. As a player you know coming into a Championship in a Lions year how important your performances are going to be. They are under the microscope throughout the Championship and they performed as you would expect today, they turned up. We won with a commanding performance in attack and defence."
Wales captain Gethin Jenkins revealed how his side had plotted their revival in the immediate aftermath of their opening defeat to Ireland. He said: "Behind closed doors we talked about how we were going to build ourselves back and those three games away from home built our team spirit and, today, to finish that off was great for us.
"We had more pressure on us today than a Grand Slam game. The momentum had built up, the atmosphere had built up, everyone expected us to win. We just stuck tight. To get that win against England, to stop them winning the Grand Slam as well, the boys are ecstatic in the changing rooms."
England coach Stuart Lancaster was quick to accept his side were second best but vowed to learn from the defeat. He said: "No complaints, the best side won on the day. From our point of view it's a very disappointed dressing room and coaching staff. To win the last four games has been a fantastic experience for us in the Six Nations but to come up short today is hugely disappointing.
"On the bigger picture we'll learn a lot from it. Wales have 650 caps, we have less than 300 and we've managed in other games to get momentum and a foothold in the game. At half-time we still thought we were in the competition, but the momentum Wales built told in the last 20 minutes."
Lancaster rejected any suggestion it would have a bearing on the 2015 World Cup, where the countries have been drawn together in the same group. "I think we play a few times before then, two lots of Six Nations," said Lancaster. "I'm sure this time next year we'll not forget this. You've got to give Wales credit. We ended up chasing the game and made error on error and made a bad job worse.
"The third quarter was critical. When Wales got the 12-3 lead and then the try you could see us begin to chase the game and the game went away from us. But we're a young side and I don't think any international side goes unbeaten.
"Wales not long ago had lost a few on the bounce but they held their nerve and that's what we will do. We'll stick together. We've got some good players to come back into the equation and a summer tour to look forward to while the rest of our players go away with the British Lions."
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree was disappointed with the number of penalties England conceded. He said: "I need to look at the tape again. You come off a game like that and you have to look at yourself first, but I need to see those scrums and the breakdowns again because the penalty count was too much against us. We'll have a good look at what we can do better there."
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