Wales rugby team, and Wayne Pivac’s problems continue to mount

Wales rugby team, and Wayne Pivac’s problems continue to mount

Wayne Pivac’s tenure as Wales rugby teams’ head coach has got off to a ‘far from smooth start’ as problems continue to mount for the New Zealander.

Pivac; who has won just two competitive games since replacing Warren Gatland as head coach of Wales, is already under increasing pressure. Although it was expected that the transition following Gatland’s departure would be difficult, few expected Wales to struggle as much as they have.

Pivac’s solitary Wales rugby team wins have come against Italy and Georgia – even then, Wales were unconvincing in victory.

Wales rugby team: a confusing decline

The most confusing part is that this is virtually the same team that surged to a Six Nations Grand Slam last March, won 14 straight games and reached the World Cup semifinal in Japan.

Wales have been without Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, and Ross Moriarty, the back-row which helped power them to Gatland’s third Grand Slam. However, a team with such riches in the back-row can’t pin their woes on the loss of three players.

Somehow in the space of just over a year, Wales has dropped from first to ninth in the world rankings. Since then Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations – their lowest finish since 2007 – and are dropping further in the World Rugby official rankings with each outing.

To compound matters, Wales came out of the first lockdown slower than any other major rugby nation. It is hard to blame preparation, especially after Argentina made history by beating New Zealand, with the majority of the Pumas squad having not played since Super Rugby was cancelled.

Pivac and company can’t seem to extract a positive performance from the team, let alone a win. It is hard to argue the change in styles is a major factor yet.

Compare Pivac’s success with the Scarlets

The Kiwi has extensive experience in Welsh rugby having coached Scarlets for five years, and even helped the Llanelli region to their first silverware in over a decade.

In addition, large number of players in this Wales squad have worked with Wayne Pivac at some point in their careers [during Pivac’s time coaching Scarlets]. Those players have firsthand experience playing in the Kiwi’s system that was successful in regional rugby.

Munster v Scarlets - Guinness PRO12 Final
Scarlets players celebrate after winning during the Guinness PRO12 Final on May 27, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Scarlets in between 2016 and 2017 played a thrilling brand of rugby, which threatened the opposition from anywhere on the field. The level of skill, execution, and intelligence were off the charts, and risks routinely taken.

That Scarlets team was delightful to watch and reached the pinnacle of regional rugby as they claimed the final Pro12 after beating Irish giants Leinster and Munster in playoff matches on back-to-back weekends in Dublin.

He brought ‘old-fashioned’ values to the Scarlets and transformed a side that had been in turmoil on and off the field into champions and European Cup semi-finalists. He encouraged players to express themselves and a significant factor behind his appointment was the flowing style of rugby he advocated.

That has so far been absent during his time as Wales rugby team’s boss. And who knows if it will ever come.

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Autumn Nations Cup: Round Four – Wales v Italy. December 5, Cardiff

 

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