Last week we had former Welsh head coach Mike Ruddock on our podcast, 'In From The Side' where he, alongside Dennis Hickie and Emmett Byrne, talked all things Rugby World Cup.
Naturally, the conversation eventually made it on to the topic of Wales and their performance in so far in the World Cup and specifically against Australia.
When Ruddock was discussing the Welsh loss to Australia he highlighted a lack of fire-power in the front row and he believed that Gatland made a mistake before the World Cup in not selecting Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard. In his opinion this left the Welsh squad with too many inexperienced international front rowers:
I would have used Adam Jones for a half or 40 mins just to take the heat out of some of the young bucks on the loosehead side and then had Samson Lee ready for the next World cup behind them. Once Adam Jones and Hibbard aren’t there and Samson Lee is struggling you are relying on Thomas Francis and Andrew Jarvis who at this moment of time are just not good enough.
Fast forward to the final minutes of the South Africa vs Wales and South Africa has a scrum on the Welsh 22.
With South Africa only needing a penalty or drop goal to go ahead the Welsh forward pack had to lock out the scrum and not give away a penalty. This would then force South Africa to take the ball out of the scrum and put it into the hands of it's inexperienced backline. This would then give the Welsh bakline the chance to swarm them.
However the South Africa scrum got the early push on and then wheeled the scrum to the left. This meant that the Welsh back row was effectively out of the game and it gave the opportunity to No.8 Duane Vermeulen and scrum-half Fourie Du Preez to attack the blindside which culminated with Du Preez scoring the winning try in the corner.
The scrum wheeled on the Welsh tighthead side and the Welsh tighthead at that scrum was Thomas Francis who Ruddock felt, at this moment in time, was not good enough for international rugby.
It seems that Ruddock's analysis was spot on as the scrum did in fact come back to haunt Wales. Now whether or not the selection of Adam Jones could have changed this/done better than Francis we will never know.
If you want to hear more from Mike Ruddock you can listen to the podcast below.