Six Nations: Different ceremony, same pride for Wales and captain Alun Wyn Jones

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales
Wales coach Wayne Pivac says it's been a special Six Nations for Wales

There were no wild celebrations, no opportunity for Wales' players to share the moment with their supporters.

But that did not diminish Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones' pride at lifting the 2021 Six Nations trophy.

Jones and the majority of his team-mates gathered at their training base a day after Scotland's win over France in Paris ensured Wales won the title.

"Hopefully there will be a chance for fans to have their time with the trophy further down the line," said Jones.

It was very different from the scenes prompted by the four other Six Nations titles Jones has won since 2008.

The intimate celebration pictures were indicative of Covid-19 times as Wales clinched their sixth Six Nations trophy since the tournament expanded in 2000, thanks to Scotland's 27-23 victory against France in Paris on Friday

"It's funny because in a way it's very special because this is where we spend a lot of our time," said Jones.

"This is where I've been coming since I was part of the programme in under-16s to full senior.

"To have the opportunity to do it here is special, but not to be able to share it with the fans is disappointing."

Jones said that due to domestic duties, he had not seen much of Scotland's win over France, which secured the title for Wales.

"It was a normal night, putting the kids to bed and then there was the small matter of a rugby match I caught the last 20 minutes of," said Jones.

"The last 12 months has been very different not only in the sporting world but everywhere.

"It's been a long week in not preparing for a game which has a bearing on where you finish."

Wales received a lot of criticism after only three wins in 2020, but their form has transformed spectacularly in the 2021 showpiece tournament.

"I'm proud of the attitude on the field, but also the discipline off it," said Jones.

"We've had our blips like most environments have, but to come through it like we have makes me proud not just in a rugby sense but an off-field sense.

"Considering the state of things and what was said going into the campaign, I'm proud to be associated with this group of players, staff and management."

Pivac had received the most intense scrutiny after his opening season in charge had resulted in wins over Italy and Georgia only.

"It's not about me. It's about the team," said Pivac.

"Genuinely, this group is a team and we put them first in every aspect.

"The board have been very supportive. We laid out a plan to the Rugby World Cup at the start of this tenure and we've stuck to that, and I've been regularly updating my board.

"It's just knowing you have the support and that's been evident.

"I know the rugby public hurt when we don't win a test match, just like how we hurt. That's expected - it goes with the territory. But moments like this make up for the bad times."

Wales coach Wayne Pivac with his first Six Nations title and captain Alun Wyn Jones with his fifth
Wales coach Wayne Pivac with his first Six Nations title and captain Alun Wyn Jones with his fifth

Pivac has had to make some difficult choices, with defence coach Byron Hayward departing and Gethin Jenkins taking on the role.

He also made some inspired decisions with George North moving to centre from wing, which in turn allowed Louis Rees-Zammit to flourish.

"There are some tough decisions that have to be made at times, and we haven't shied away from those," added Pivac.

"We stuck with our plan and made sure we were true to ourselves."

Pivac admitted it had been a strange week. Wales had to overcome the disappointment of missing out on a Grand Slam with a last-gasp defeat to France before waiting seven days to be presented with the Six Nations silverware.

"We watched ourselves win a championship from our individual lounges," said Pivac.

"We didn't know if it was good enough to win the championship, waiting six days for that match between France and Scotland and then going through that match with so many moments that kept us on our toes.

"It has been an emotional rollercoaster because we put in by far our best performance against the French and thought we had done enough to have won that game, but it wasn't to be.

"To lose it in the last play of the game was devastating, the boys wanted that Grand Slam, so we had the lows of not achieving that.

"It probably took me until Wednesday or Thursday to want to come out of the house, purely from the sickening feeling for the players who had worked so hard.

"We desperately wanted that Grand Slam for so many reasons. The hard the work that went in, the style of rugby and winning it for the people of Wales.

Six Nations table showing Wales top after all games played

"They have had to put up with a lot in the last 12 months, and we've all had to live through this thing.

"It was hard to take, but the sun does come up in the morning."

Pivac outlined what lies ahead with a summer tour of South America planned - as it stands - for July while the British and Irish Lions are due to travel to South Africa, Covid-19 permitting.

"I'd like to think we'll get a good representation with the Lions which leads us to the summer tour, which is going to be an opportunity to blood more players," said Pivac.

"(There have been) a lot of conversations over whether we'll be touring or whether some will come here.

"Those discussions are ongoing and in the next week or two we'll be in a better position to talk exact opposition and dates.

"At the moment it's Uruguay and two Tests in Argentina, and we have to make sure everything meets up in line with the government's expectations with Covid.

"It's a moving thing we discuss on a regular basis."

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