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March 13, 2012
Confident Wales heads into 6 Nations' last round

A SEA OF RED Wales wing George North (c) prepares to run at the Italy defence during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Italy at the Millennium stadium on March 10, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
by Barry Newcombe, Chairman AIPS Rugby Commission
LONDON, March 13, 2012 - Wales are now in the strongest position to win the RBS Six Nations' Championship as they head the table going into the last round of matches on Saturday. Wales, with a two point advantage over England and a three point advantage over France, are unlikely to be caught but it will be a tense finale with Wales-France playing the second match on Saturday and England-Ireland going last. The Italy-Scotland match decides who finishes bottom of the table. After beating France in Paris, England have a mathematical chance of taking the title if they can beat Ireland and also if Wales lost to France. With a huge 38 point advantage in the points table Wales are in a strong position there as well. So at this stage it is Wales who are placed best which means that coach Warren Gatland has once again stated his case as the best coach in the championship and is clear favourite to coach the British and Irish Lions on their tour of Australia next year. The influence of coaches is more than apparent in the table. France have stuttered under Philippe Saint-Andre but England have flourished under their new coach Stuart Lancaster. England are thought to have scoured the world for a new coach after being so poor in the World Cup last year but it now seems as if their interim choice has the strongest claims to win the job full time. History says that no country has won the World Cup with a foreign coach - another factor which helps Lancaster. He has moulded the squad to his own ideals, convinced them of the rewards which can be earned by their abilities, and allowed a new captain in Chris Robshaw to set the mood on the pitch. England players who returned from the World Cup disillusioned are now fulfilling themselves. It is not all roses in England's garden. They have many problems to sort out going forward, not least against Ireland next Saturday, but also in the three -Test series against South Africa in the summer and then against Australia, New Zealand,and South Africa in England next autumn. Cutting down on their penalty count--they conceded eleven against France and had one player sin binned -- would be a start.
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