Six Nations: Justin Tipuric urges Wales to play with more joy

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric urges Warren Gatland’s side to play with more joy in the face of turbulent Six Nations campaign… as the team make the most of their French Riviera training camp before facing France

  • Wales have suffered throughout the Six Nations both on and off the pitch
  • Ahead of meeting formidable France, Tipuric stressed the importance of fun
  • Victory over Italy was a necessary mood-lifter within the Welsh camp 

A win over Italy aside, there has not been much for Welsh rugby to cheer about in 2023 but Justin Tipuric believes finding joy in their work again is the key to success for Warren Gatland’s side. 

This Six Nations has seen Wales suffer defeats by Ireland, Scotland and England on the field and endure financial and contractual uncertainty away from it. 

Those off-pitch problems culminated in a player threat to strike ahead of the England match, one which was only avoided at the 11th hour. 

Significant boardroom problems remain in Welsh rugby, but victory in Rome was not only a much-needed success but also a win which provided a change in momentum. 

‘It was relief more than anything,’ said Wales flanker Tipuric. ‘We’re not used to being in these type of situations with Wales, so it was a big win for us. 

Justin Tipuric (pictured with head coach Warren Gatland) believes ‘a bit of fun’ can lead to the Welsh players’ best rugby

Wales’ victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome was a much-needed tonic for the team

‘Even though we have had a lot stick for the performances over the last few weeks, we do have to enjoy ourselves. When you are on the field and having a bit of fun, that is probably when you play some of your best rugby.’

Wales head coach Gatland said after the England loss that Tipuric had pointed out to the squad the lack of energy and enthusiasm in their body language in big moments in the game.

 Tipuric admitted that after 12 defeats in 15 matches for Wales prior to victory over Italy, a loss of confidence had been a problem to overcome.

‘Of course. When you are on a bit of a bad run of losses, you need to make sure you are still talking and trying to enjoy it,’ said the Ospreys back-row.

‘It was a bit of a focus point but it was not anything major.’

Wales are preparing for their final Six Nations clash with France on Saturday with a training camp in Nice on the Cote d’Azur this week. 

On Wednesday, Gatland’s players were given the day off to enjoy the French Riviera with some staying on the beach in Nice. 

Others went to Monaco or Cannes and with temperatures touching 20 degrees in March and the sun out, it was a reminder of how fortunate a position the Wales squad are in even if everything is still far from perfect in the country’s domestic game.

‘The warm weather helps, especially when you know back home it is raining and not very nice,’ said Tipuric. ‘Rhys Webb said to me it was the first time he had trained in a pair of shorts in the last eight weeks. He has been in skins so you know what type of weather we have been having at home.

‘We are still training and working hard. It is not like we are sitting on the beach having a few drinks. It just makes it a bit nicer when you are doing sea recovery afterwards.’

Wales’ Nice training camp is designed to mimic the preparations the team will go through at the World Cup, also in France, later this year. 

Tipuric was dejected after Wales’ 10-20 defeat to England at the Principality Stadium

High-flying France are not an easy prospect at the best of times, and they are in white-hot form

Gatland’s second spell with Wales has not got off to the easiest start both on and off the pitch

The squad will head to Paris on Thursday to take on a Les Bleus side riding high after hammering England 53-10 in what was a record Red Rose defeat at Twickenham. 

France can still win the Six Nations if Grand Slam-chasing Ireland lose at home to England and they beat Wales, which is likely. 

Gatland will name his team to face France on Thursday with Dan Biggar back available for selection at fly-half after missing Italy with a back injury. With Liam Williams out injured, Louis Rees-Zammit is in contention to play full-back. 

‘A lot of players have played in games where we’ve had quite a few wins against them [France], said Tipuric. ‘They’re a team high on confidence. Everyone’s writing us off already before we’ve even stepped on the pitch. Sometimes that’s when we come out fighting and are at our best.’

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