Welsh skipper Alun Wyn Jones will take to the field with a black eye after getting punched in a training ground incident in the lead up to the game with Ireland – the Daily Mail and The Rugby Paper are reporting.
Jones was apparently decked by fellow second row Jake Ball in an incident that has since been downplayed by the WRU. Pictures have appeared online of the bruise under his left eye.
Some may take the incident to be more proof of chaos behind the scenes in Wayne Pivac’s Welsh set-up. Pivac had a dreadful 2020, with just three wins across the calendar year: Italy twice and Georgia once. There was also speculation that there was tension between the team and staff, with growing frustrations among players at the direction the team had taken tactically.
Pivac’s trusted defence coach Byron Hayward was sacked with ‘immediate effect’ in November and huge pressure has been placed on Pivac’s shoulders coming into the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
Training ground scraps can be heralded a sign that a team are fired up for a contest, however, the fact that Wales’ iconic leader Jones was on the receiving end will definitely raise eyebrows in Wales.
While training ground bust-ups are hardly uncommon in rugby, it’s less than ideal for Wales, who have already had to deal with Josh Adams breaching covid protocols. Adams was banned for two games after he attended a gender reveal party before coming clean about the breach to WRU staff.
Ireland legend Paul O’Connell infamously left Ulster second row Ryan Caldwell in hospital after punching him in an Ireland training session in 2007 and went on to describe it as the ‘worst moment’ of his career in his autobiography, as he feared he had killed his teammate.
Behind the scenes fisty cuffs were also a staple of Leicester Tigers down through the years, while Wasps’ fullback Josh Lewsey famously knocked out Danny Cipriani after the pair exchanged words in a training session in 2008. Outside of the training ground, then Bath No.8 Carl Fearns knocked teammate Gavin Henson unconscious with a straight right at local pub, in an incident that then went viral in 2013.
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