Wayne Pivac insists attack is Wales’ path to Six Nations glory

Another special week begins for Wales; it has been 27 years since they last failed to complete a Grand Slam from this position – but this time it is altogether different.

While this generation of Welsh players always deliver when unbeaten going into the final round, they have never had to leave Cardiff to do it.

Every attempt since 1994 – in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2019 – has seen the Welsh capital descend into pandemonium, the away side paralysed by the occasion and there for the taking.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac is determined to guide the country to a fifth Six Nations Grand Slam

Pivac's side have already equalled their national record of scoring 17 tries ahead of Paris trip

Pivac’s side have already equalled their national record of scoring 17 tries ahead of Paris trip

In 2021 it is France standing between Wales and their clean sweep for the 10th time in the history of this competition; a challenging enough prospect as it is, despite their defeat to England at Twickenham, before you realise it is not since the storied side of 1971 that a Welsh Slam has been sealed in Paris.

So while in the recent past there is a sense of inevitability about the outcome of these weeks, this is all new for Wales’ golden generation, and not just because there will be no one in France to see it.

‘The absence of fans neutralises things a little bit,’ said coach Wayne Pivac after the routine Italy win.

‘We travelled out to Paris in the warm-up for the autumn. We played there in a late, nine o’clock kick off last time. It will all be familiar territory for us, which is a good thing.’

In that game Wales were thrashed 38-21, but captain Alun Wyn Jones knows his side are worlds away now from the one that underwhelmed spectacularly in 2020.

‘In many ways it’s a similar situation with no fans away in France and that was a clinical game by them,’ he said

‘But that was the start of a competition in a different situation. I don’t want to be over the top but the world had changed and we were going into a competition we hadn’t experienced before.

Alun Wyn Jones is leading a side accustomed to chasing Slams and he could win a fourth

Alun Wyn Jones is leading a side accustomed to chasing Slams and he could win a fourth


Wales have been on for the Slam 15 times in their history, completing the job 12 times. They last had to play away on the final day in 1994, losing to England, last winning in Paris to seal the clean sweep in 1971. 

1908 W 11-5 v Ireland (A)

1909 W 18-5 v Ireland (H)

1911 W 16-0 v Ireland (H)

1950 W 21-0 v France (H)

1952 W 9-5 v France (H)

1965 L 22-13 v France (A)

W 9-5 v France (A)

1976 W 19-15 v France (H)

1978 W 16-7 v France (H)

1988 L 10-9 v France (H)

L 15-8 v England (A)

2005 W 32-30 v Ireland (H)

2008 W 29-12 v France (H)

2012 W 16-9 v France (H)

2019 W 25-7 v Ireland (H)

‘We’re a bit further down the line with no crowds, where we are with the game and all that’s going on to make it happen.

‘We’ve dealt with that, but we still have to go up a few gears to go there and perform. They’re arguably the in-form team in the competition and have been for the last two years, and I’m sure they’re not going to stop that next week.’

After thrashing England, everyone knew Wales would make it here unbeaten.

The Italian job was clinical – seven tries scored via Ken Owens, twice, Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Callum Sheedy which afforded them a chance to fine-tune before the real test this Saturday night.

Having sealed a bonus point by the 27th minute Pivac whipped off North, Biggar, Gareth Davies, Faletau and his skipper early in the second half, resting them for France.

With defence coach Gethin Jenkins angry even at 27-0, the final plays in Rome were a trial run for Paris – Wales proving they can hold firm.

‘It became a dress rehearsal for France,’ revealed Pivac. ‘The defence at the end was paramount. We’re pleased that we held them out.’

It is the attack that has dazzled this time. Already Wales have equalled their national record of scoring 17 tries in the competition, six more than anyone else. From Warren to Wayneball, then.

‘We want to be very positive when we’ve got the ball,’ said Pivac on that statistic.

‘It was far from perfect but the intent was certainly there. We want to keep tweaking the attack and getting better if we can.’

On one hand it is remarkable Wales are here. So bad were they in 2020 that it looked their greatest era since the 1970s was tailing off fast.

‘If you asked this side coming out of the autumn whether they’d take four from four traveling to Paris for a potential Grand Slam, I think you know the answer,’ smiled Pivac.

But then again Wales make a habit of riding the rollercoaster. Now most certainly up, and with so many who have done this all before they know what to do from here.

‘Enjoy your time with the family, then be ready to work on Tuesday,’ captain Jones relayed the message to his Slam hunters. ‘The biggest thing for me is the realisation we’ve got a lot of players that have been in these weeks before. You don’t want to be over the top with the messaging and speak too much because it builds the fatigue levels. It’s another opportunity and challenge to play for Wales in a special week.’


WALES: L Williams 7; Rees-Zammit 8, North 7.5 (Halaholo, 45 7), J Davies 7, Adams 8; Biggar 8 (Sheedy, 52 7), G Davies 7.5 (Lloyd Williams, 52 7); W Jones 7 (Carré, 57 6), Owens 8.5, Francis 7 (Brown, 44 7), Hill 7, AW Jones 7 (Ball, 53 6.5), Navidi 9, Tipuric 8, Faletau 8.5 (Wainwright, 52 6).

ITALY: Trulla 5 (Padovani, 43 6); Bellini 6, Brex 5, Canna 4, Ioane 7 (Fabiani, 6-16 5); Garbisi 6.5 (Mori, 53 6), Varney 6.5 (Violi, 62 6); Fischetti 5 (Lovotti, 65 6), Bigi 3, Zilocchi 5 (Riccioni, 32 4), Cannone 5 (Lazzaroni, 52 5), Sisi 6, Negri 6, Meyer 5 (Mbanda, 25-35 5), Lamaro 6.

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