Thursday 14 December 2017

Lions fatigue can't mask deeper Welsh woes

Wales' Alun Wyn Jones
Wales' Alun Wyn Jones

Trevor Hogan

When the history of this Six Nations comes to be written, one of the big stories will be how the champions of the past two years have rapidly gone downhill.

The win over France aside, Wales have looked limited and a shadow of the side that won the tournament in 2013 and the Grand Slam of 2012. Ahead of tomorrow's game against Scotland, questions are already being asked about what has gone wrong. But there seems to be a lack of clear answers.

Their captain Alun-Wyn Jones this week admitted that he doesn't know if the Lions tour has had an impact on the poor performance by Wales in this Six Nations.

It has been regularly highlighted that France have won the Six Nations in every year directly following a Lions tour. Even if Les Bleus don't manage that feat again this year, the theory about post-Lions fatigue impacting the Six Nations looks set to persist given that Wales provided the bulk of last summer's squad and have now undergone a huge dip in form.

Yet, as Jones pointed out, the theory is going to be impossible to prove either way. Each player is different and they all largely went through differing pre-seasons and conditioning programmes with their clubs.

However, the main problem with the fatigue argument is that it deflects attention from the serious domestic problems that the Welsh game is facing.

The impact of the loss of high-profile players to England and France, combined with the consistent underperformance of their clubs in Europe, is eventually going to be reflected in the Test arena. Worryingly for Wales, the Six Nations of 2014 could mark the start of that process.

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