Dan Biggar: a Very Good, or a Great Welsh outside-half?

Wales player Dan Biggar looks on against Scotland
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Wales will face England at Twickenham on Saturday, February 26. And one of the participants is Wales rugby outside-half Dan Biggar who may well play a big hand in the outcome.

This is a match that will go a long way in determining how both country’s Six Nations’ campaigns are perceived. With Dan Biggar the current Welsh captain in the absence of Alun Wyn-Jones.

@LWOSRugby asks, whether observers can say is “Dan Biggar: a very good, or a great Welsh outside-half?”

The next eighteen months are pivotal in how Biggar’s international career will be viewed. Though retrospectively, no one can argue that up to this point, he hasn’t been very good.

Very Good; proof is in the pudding for Dan Biggar

The stats bear this out: Multiple Grand Slams, Triple Crowns, and Six Nations Championships, closing in on 100 caps for Wales, fourth-highest Welsh point-scorer, Lions tourist and participant in two Rugby World Cups, including a losing semi-final (with a possible third Rugby World Cup for Biggar taking place in France next year).

The current incumbent of the Welsh number ten jersey is fresh from a narrow victory over the Scottish. Biggar battled on for the majority of the game whilst nursing a knock to his knee. In the last ten minutes, he took the contentious decision to drop-kick Wales into a three-point lead. Contentious because Wales already had the penalty advantage and men out-wide. Ultimately, Wales won and his decision-making was vindicated.

In the final few minutes and before being replaced by Callum Sheedy, Biggar expertly kicked a penalty into touch deep in Scottish territory. This piled pressure on the Scots and eased the burden on Welsh shoulders. Decisive moments in narrow victories help to cement reputations with the fans and viewing public alike.

England await at Twickenham this weekend

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With England awaiting, Biggar will again need to be at, or close to, his best in this difficult next assignment. Interestingly, he’s likely to be up against England’s own fly-half maestro, Marcus Smith. This will be an old versus young, master versus student head-to-head at English rugby’s HQ. Smith and his Harlequins team-mate, Alex Dombrandt, were recently featured by Charlie Inglefield for Last Word on Rugby.

If Biggar helps guide Wales to victory then it would go a long way in silencing most of the remaining detractors within Wales. Part of the problem for the critics is Biggar’s style of play. However, should the naysayers (this writer included on some occasions) love Biggar for who he is, rather than hoping he’ll magically transform into a hitch-kicking, no-look passing maverick?

Biggar; a Great Welsh outside-half (see comparisons)

Where does he rank alongside the greatest Welsh outside-halves of years gone by?  Consider three of the most celebrated to come out of Wales: Barry John, Phil Bennett and Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies. The video clips below show ‘Jiffy’ lighting up the old Cardiff Arms Park with a MOTM performance on his debut.

Barry, Phil or Jonathon all had the outstanding attacking ability. What Biggar may lack with the ball in hand, he has made up for in other areas: mental-toughness, game management/decision making, ability with the boot (from the tee or out of the hand, in defence or in attack). His strength under the high-ball and willingness to put his body on the line show his all-round game. Neither John, Bennett nor Jiffy were renowned for their defence. Biggar is ever-reliable when defending.

The passing of time can make us a bit nostalgic for the heroes of old. Perhaps we only see the good and forget that those previous stars had the odd game to forget or defensive-lapse? Conversely, are we too hard on our current favourites? Comparing different eras in sport is also notoriously difficult to do with so much change taking place on and off the field from era to era.

Is he very good or great? Biggar still has a bit of a way to go to join the pantheon of great Welsh number tens. Rather than gripe, fans should enjoy watching his remaining years at the top for Wales. Might they pull off an unlikely Six Nations Championship victory? (as they achieved last year). Do that, and Biggar’s legacy will surely grow from very good to Great.

Winning the tournament is a big if mind you. They’re not yet even halfway through the competition schedule. England, France, and Italy are all still awaiting this Dan Biggar led Welsh side.

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England v Wales is scheduled on February 26 at 4:45 p.m, and will be shown on ITV according to the Telegraph. It will be another heroic effort from each side, in their long-established history – with Dan Biggar likely to play a big part.

Wales then host France in Cardiff, on March 11 at 8:00 p.m. Then it will be Italy’s turn to visit Cardiff on March 19.

 

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