Players have a duty not to con the ref Posted almost 12 years ago

England must be fed up of the Welsh and the Scotts. Scott Gibbs denied them at Wembley with a late try in 1999 and Scott Williams stole the ball and victory at Twickenham last weekend with less than five minutes to go.

I was wrecked by the end. It was probably the most physical match I have ever played in. England made us dig deep and I woke up the next morning feeling as if I had been hit by a car.

There had been talk in the week that we only had to turn up to win, but Six Nations rugby is not like that. You earn what you get and England, as we knew they would, made us battle for every point.

I thought we had the edge up front, but they impressed me at the breakdown. They have a number of jackallers in their pack and they competed well for the ball on the floor. They also stopped us attacking round the corner and their midfield defence was very hard to break.

They had done their homework and not so very long ago we would not have had a response. We dogged it out. If you win a championship, it is one of those victories you look back on as defining because you were not at your best but you came through because of your character and determination.

Not that we are thinking the Six Nations title is ours, far from it. We have two matches to go, both at the Millennium Stadium, starting with Italy next week. While we will not be able to stop the Welsh public from talking about our final game, against France, we cannot afford to look that far ahead.

We will prepare for Italy in the way we have for our three games so far. The moment you start taking anything for granted in Test rugby is a prelude to your reflecting on a defeat. We are a team that has not forgotten the pain of losing to France in the World Cup semi-final, and while I would not claim that has fired us this year because our goal has simply been to win the Six Nations, we will never forget how low we felt that October night in Auckland.

I was sent off in that match for a tip-tackle on Vincent Clerc. Midway through the second-half at Twickenham I was taken out in a line-out, when I saw some five feet in the air, and landed on the floor with a crash. It was my opposite number, Chris Robshaw, who had touched me while I was airborne, but the referee satisfied himself with awarding a penalty and not showing a card.

I thought that was the right decision because there was no intent involved, but is there any difference between a tip tackle and tilting someone who is a long way in the air at a line-out? When I was on the floor, some of the boys were saying that I should milk it to prompt the referee into giving something more than a penalty, but I got to my feet straight away.

The landing hurt – it was a long way down – but I remember how Clerc had writhed around in the semi-final after my tackle, trying to influence the referee, and how unimpressed I had been at that. I was not going to play the hypocrite or act like a footballer and I was delighted to swap shirts with Chris afterwards. I thought he had an excellent game: people say he is not a specialist seven, but he hurt us at the breakdown and he seemed to be everywhere on the pitch.

He epitomised the effort England put in. They were on top early in the second-half, leading 12-6 and having a man advantage with Rhys Priestland in the sin-bin. It was then that we came together and kept the ball for most of the time Rhys was off the field. By the time he came back, the deficit was three points and we had created the springboard for victory.

We did not win in style, but you are not going to play thrilling rugby every week. It was not so long ago that we were being criticised for not being able to close out tight matches but we have done so now in Dublin and Twickenham. We are moving forward and the next couple of matches will be a test of nerve.

Spectators on the west side of Twickenham may have been surprised as they left the ground after the match to see the Wales team, still in kit, walk across the concourse and into the car park.

We were on our way to the mobile cryotherapy chamber Wales use to aid recovery. The van pulling it could not get closer to the changing rooms and we all had to get in, one at a time, before we had a shower and spend three minutes in savagely freezing temperatures.

I say that you are not supposed to have a shower first, but there was one time when Toby Faletau got in with wet hair. He emerged with a rock solid Afro!

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Sam Warburton is acknowledged as one of the best openside flankers in the world. At a young age Sam has a great presence at the breakdown and a phenomenal ability to create turnover ball. Having represented Wales at all levels Warburton captained the national side for the first time in 2011 against the Barbarians, becoming the second youngest Wales captain after Gareth Edwards. Sam has won 26 caps including 10 as captain – 6 of which were at Rugby World Cup 2011, making him the youngest ever World Cup captain. Sam retired from all rugby in 2019.

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