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Wales Can't Get Their Story Straight About Dan Biggar 'Overruling' Alun Wyn Jones

Wales Can't Get Their Story Straight About Dan Biggar 'Overruling' Alun Wyn Jones
By Gavan Casey

During a crucial juncture in their defeat at Murrayfield, Wales royally botched it.

Trailing by just three points, referee John Lacey awarded the Welsh a penalty inside the Scottish 22, about five metres in from the touchline. It sparked a moment of disorder which would haunt the Welsh and in particular potential Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones after the game.

After Welsh skipper Jones initially appeared to be favouring a shot at goal to draw the sides level, Dan Biggar can be heard shouting, "Or do you want to go corner? Al? Al, Al, hang on, you want to go corner?"

Jones responded immediately, telling Biggar and the referee, "Kick" - as in kick for goal - and as Lacey declares that a shot has been indicated, Biggar turns back towards Wales' goal-kicker Leigh Halfpenney to hand him the ball.

However, during a brief exchange with Jones, Halfpenney seems to utter the words 'Not happy', as an impatient Lacey reminds Jones he had already indicated a shot at goal. During this split-second confusion, Biggar turns back to the corner once more, shouting "Corner! Corner!" He promptly drills the ball into touch.

Wales were penalised from the ensuing lineout and failed to register another point.

Dan Biggar Alun Wyn Jones kick decision

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In Wales, the backlash to the on-field uncertainty was severe; many fans and pundits alike maintained that the incident and its subsequent conclusion, with Scotland winning a rousing penalty from a Welsh lineout, played a pivotal role in what transpired to be a 29-13 victory for the hosts.

Alun Wyn Jones was quizzed about the uncertainty during his post-match press conference, and had the following curt exchange with an English reporter:

Alun Wyn Jones: I would have liked to [have gone for the posts].

Reporter: So, what happened?

AWJ: We didn't, did we? So, there we are. I got done for blocking then [from the following lineout], but yeah, I would have liked to have gone for the three.

Kickers didn't want to, so we just went to the corner.

In the Welsh media, fly-half Dan Biggar was accused of 'overruling his captain', whom he also plays with at club-level for the Ospreys.

A furious Biggar unleashed a rather furious tirade at the same media yesterday, suggesting they get their story straight before 'filling their column inches'. Speaking to journalists, Biggar scoffed at the notion that he had taken the penalty decision into his own hands, and admitted he had found the reaction to the incident very difficult:

I don’t know if my version of events matters, you guys have already printed all your stuff. Maybe it’s best for you to hold off before you get full clarity on things.

The bottom line is Leigh has held his hands up and said he didn't fancy the kick. To which, in as many words, Alun-Wyn has said, 'Sod it, we'll go to the corner then'.

It was a very amicable chat and for me it was never about overruling the captain. Where that came from and who put that out there, I have no idea.

I've asked Al. If it was on the '22' and bang in front, I wouldn't have asked. As it was on the touchline, I've asked the question about whether to go for the corner.

I've turned - which I don't think some people have seen on the video footage - to give the ball to Leigh but he hasn't taken it and sometimes that's the way it goes.

It was a tough day and a tough kick, so then I've put the ball in the corner. Does that sound like I've overruled the captain?

It's been a pretty hurtful couple of days. It's not nice being questioned about whether you've overruled the captain, let alone it being someone like Alun Wyn who I've huge respect for. Maybe that's a point for the future. Everyone sees the side of me that is full of confidence, but ultimately things like that are quite hurtful, not just to me, but to my family.

My grandparents have bought the Western Mail for the last 40 years. For them to have read some of the stuff that was said is not great. It's pretty hurtful to have people phoning you up and asking if you've disrespected your captain.

Biggar was then asked if he fancied he could have made the kick himself, and replied:

Leigh is a world-class goal-kicker and very rarely does he miss any kicks.

It’s a tough stadium to kick at Murrayfield and the wind was up. When he didn’t fancy it, Al just made the call to go to the corner.

(Quotes via Simon Thomas, Wales Online)

Yesterday, a weary Alun Wyn Jones tried to claim that Biggar didn't want to kick for goal in case it might have 'undermined' Halfpenney's own kicking ability, with the latter presumed to have declined a shot due to the difficult Edinburgh conditions.

"Dan's said because of his respect for Leigh he didn't want to be seen to undermine him or myself so that's why I went to the lineout," Jones told reporters at The Vale.

However, it seems unlikely that in the eight seconds which elapse between Jones pointing to the sticks, Halfpenney turning down the shot, and Biggar booting to touch, that the latter could have sufficiently articulated to his captain how his respect for Halfpenney made him feel iffy about taking a kick on himself.

Nonetheless, the wild criticism of Biggar by the Welsh media seems unfair. The fly-half's biggest crime was enthusiastically asking a question of his captain before being told otherwise and handing the ball to his kicker. Halfpenney, as he's entitled to, turned down the shot at goal for reasons only he knows.

Which begs the question as to why Jones didn't briefly consult with his kicking fullback before indicating to the referee that Wales would be kicking for goal.

Speaking in Ireland yesterday ahead of the launch of the new season of The Toughest Trade on RTÉ tonight, Wales' record try-scorer Glenswilly corner-forward Shane Williams expressed his bemusement at the situation, but defended Jones' abilities as a captain and leader:

You learn as a captain. I found it quite bizarre for Alan Wyn to come out and say he was overturned on a decision. If you are captain, you are captain. I know Alan Wyn, he is a stubborn git. I don't think I have ever seen or heard him change his mind before.

I don't know what the understanding was with him and Dan Biggar. Dan is the kind of person, who is quite upfront and doesn't mind speaking his mind, like Sexton or Farrell. I know Leigh Halfpenny wouldn't have grumbled if Alan Wyn had said something. He will learn from that experience.

I have been captained by Alan Wyn, I think he is a fantastic captain. He leads from the front, very Martin Johnstonesque, no nonsense. Doesn't really want to talk to the press unless he has to, not like Sam Warburton, who is a good politician as you probably know. A no nonsense captain who does his talking on the field. The less BS you have from your captain as far as I'm concerned the better.

Beware the wounded Welsh on Friday week.

SEE ALSO: Nigel Owens Expresses Surprise That England Players Don't Know The Laws

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