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'That is nonsense' - Sam Warburton comes to defence of Wales rookie

By Ian Cameron
Former Wales captain, now assistant coach Sam Warburton waits on the touchline with drinks for players (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images)

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Sam Warburton has come to the defence of Wales rookie flanker Taine Basham, who has come for some criticism following Wales’ loss to England in Round 3 of the Guinness Six Nations.

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Wales seemed struggle with the referee Mike Adamson’s interpretation of the breakdown, with many of Wales’ 13 penalties arising from that area of play and England flyhalf Smith ultimately took his opportunities, collecting an 18-point haul.

It led Wales captain Dan Biggar to reflect after the game that: “We felt like we were not quite on the right end of it.

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“You look at some of the calls – some are perhaps debatable, but some are clear. We’ve got no complaints about the performance of the referee at all.

“We have to look at ourselves. The start we made in that first 20 minutes, we deserved to be down on the scoreboard.”

Some criticism focused on the performance of Taine Basham, Wales’ new fetcher in chief. The Dragons flanker has had a breakout six month for Wales, on both sides of the ball, and is now a viable challenger to both Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi when they return.

“Wales clearly struggled at the breakdown against England, and I have seen some suggestions that open-side flanker Taine Basham should carry the can for that,” wrote Warburton in his Times column.

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“That is nonsense. The breakdown is a 15-man job. Basham can only be at, probably, one in four rucks. There were much deeper issues for Wales at Twickenham that they urgently need to fix for this France match.

“They conceded seven breakdown penalties against England and I went through them all. Some of them were down to very good work from England, but there were some sloppy mistakes by Wales.”

He also warns that inaccuracy from Wales will be punished by France on Friday night, so has warned them not to play too much rugby 30 metres from their own line.

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“France, like New Zealand, have that x-factor to punish any side in the world from only one phase,” he explained.

“I can imagine that Neil Jenkins, who is in charge of Wales’ exit strategies from their own half, will be telling the team not to play more than one phase in that part of the field. Only if there is a glaring opportunity — say a three-man overlap — should they consider anything else.”

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