Alex Cuthbert has struggled to regain his early international form, and since then has seemingly replaced Rhys Priestland as Wales’ least favourite son. Despite having sped Wales to a Six Nations title four years ago, the Alex Cuthbert vilification currently being directed his way by the Welsh media and fans, will tarnish his legacy.
As difficult as International sport is, his errors in allowing Elliot Daly to evade his cover defense (main photo) in Round Two of the RBS Six Nations, is what fans are talking about now–not the man who destroyed England on that glorious, wonderful winter’s day in Cardiff three years ago.
The Early Days
Cuthbert’s international career began promisingly, scoring the winning try in Wales’ Grand Slam game against France at the Millennium Stadium. After Shane Williams’ retirement in 2011, Wales had attacked down one flank [George North] and their play was impacted as a result. But as Alex Cuthbert burst onto the scene following a brief Sevens career, the men in red were scoring tries for fun.
Cuthbert’s career continued well into the 2013 Six Nations, and after the hammering of England at the Millennium to clinch a second consecutive title; in which Alex Cuthbert was the key man. It appeared that all was well with the winger – who was the top try scorer in the 2013 tournament.
But in between the 2012 and 2013 Championships, Rhys Priestland had been so berated by the rugby public, to the extent where he was booed at the Millennium. He didn’t look like a man who wanted to play international rugby. It affected the players performance, and how can you blame him for feeling anxious?
When the 2014 Six Nations began, the Welsh public were beginning to turn on Cuthbert’s place. They were tired of losing to the southern hemisphere nations, and looked for a scapegoat. Similarly to Rhys Priestland just a year earlier; the fans pinpointed theri scapegoat–innocently or not, it was Alex Cuthbert.
Cuthbert’s Difficulties There For All To See
Since then, a form of Alex Cuthbert ‘vilification’ see’s him become the man who Wales simply love to hate. His apparent defensive ineptitude becomes a prevalent issue, even alongside a solid tackling team. Results have not gone his, or the teams way.
After the heartbreak of the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter final exit, Alex Cuthbert was the man blamed by many for the late Fourie du Preez try (see above). The effects of the loss on him were instant. As his teammates thanked the fans for their continued ‘support’, the Welsh winger made his way down the tunnel, dejected. He knew who would be held accountable for the late try.
The Last Straw
Four years on from the victory over England at the Millennium, Cuthbert once again played against the Red Rose. This time, the build up to the match was fueled by speculation about George North. North picked up a hematoma in the victory over Italy the previous week, and faced a race to be fit. He lost that race–so Cuthbert would play.
Making seven carries for a measly three metres over the course of that game, Cuthbert found himself ultimately blamed for Daly’s winning try. That was in-part due to a poorly taken Jonathan Davies kick. England counter-attacked extremely well, before Daly sprinted past the Welsh winger into the corner.
Post Saturday night, you just have to type Cuthbert’s name into Twitter to see what the Welsh public thought of that;
Im not saying #alexcuthbert was bad but during the game I found myself wondering whether Prof Stephen Hawkins had welsh grandparents.
— Alt Media Wales (@altmediawales) February 13, 2017
Alex Cuthbert Vilification
The Alex Cuthbert vilification follows a similar story to Rhys Priestland, and as a result who might possibly be surprised if Cuthbert does choose to quit international rugby? (much like Priestland did a year ago). It would be an over reaction, but so is the weight on players shoulder. It can be a heavy burden to carry.
From the image on Cuthbert laying on the pitch as England players celebrated, one can imagine what is going through the players mind. Vilified, one hopes that he makes the right decision–one way, or the other.
“Main photo credit”
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