Ken Owens urges Wales to use Six Nations campaign as World Cup ‘stepping stone’

Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
·2-min read

Ken Owens believes that Wales need to use this year’s Guinness Six Nations campaign as “a massive stepping stone” for the future.

Owens and company will not know until Friday night whether the title is heading to Cardiff for a second time in three seasons.

A dramatic 32-30 defeat against France destroyed Grand Slam hopes, but they will still win the championship unless Les Bleus claim a comprehensive bonus-point victory over Scotland in five days’ time.

“It is hugely frustrating,” Wales hooker Owens said, reflecting on events at Stade de France.

“We had our opportunities and didn’t take them, so now we just have to hope Scotland have a big performance against France on Friday. Hopefully, we can pick up some silverware.

“We just need to build from this now. The longer-term plan is the 2023 World Cup, and obviously, experiences like this will benefit the squad.

“We’ve got to learn from these occasions and make the best out of it. We need to use it as a massive stepping stone, looking forward to the future.

“No-one gave us a chance, coming up against what is perhaps the best French side of the last 10 years. Everybody said France were the best side in the world.

“We have really grown from last year’s Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup.

“It is definitely a massive stride forward in terms of looking to the future for Welsh rugby.

France v Wales – Guinness Six Nations – Stade de France
France’s Virimi Vakatawa (centre) celebrates as Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones (left) sits dejected after the agonising 32-30 Six Nations defeat at Stade de France.

“We are happy with our performances and the turnaround in this Six Nations, but on the same hand and at the end of the day, we are here to win rugby matches and championships. That is why we all play the game.

“All the boys are hugely frustrated and understandably devastated.

“I don’t think we left too many points out there, but, reflecting on the game, we perhaps didn’t get enough things right in the last quarter and put ourselves under pressure.”

Wales led by 10 points with three minutes of normal time remaining, but they could not hold out after seeing Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams sin-binned just 60 seconds apart.

It was their first defeat in a Six Nations Grand Slam game after achieving tournament clean sweeps in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2019.

Owens added: “We will wait and see what happens on Friday night, we will see if we pick up the championship.

“It is just frustrating that we had it all in our control and could have decided our own destiny, but didn’t do it.

“Hopefully, we can get together (on Friday) and watch it and lift a trophy.”