Wales coach mobbed by players after breaking down at full-time in clutch win

Jared Wright
Wales women's head coach Ioan Cunningham after the Six Nations clash with Italy.

Wales women's head coach Ioan Cunningham after the Six Nations clash with Italy.

Wales Women’s head coach Ioan Cunningham was in tears at full-time as his side snatched a last-gasp 22-20 victory over Italy in the Six Nations.

Wales were staring down a winless campaign, having lost their opening four games of the competition, falling to Scotland (18-20), England (46-10), Ireland (36-5), and France (0-40).


While Cunningham’s side did prop up the table in the end, collecting the dreaded Wooden Spoon, they managed to eke out a moral-boosting victory over Italy in their final match – a result that reduced their head coach, who has been widely criticised, to tears.

It was a memorable game for Wales as a record crowd for a women’s international at the Principality Stadium packed in to see their stars secure the win, and the emotion of the match sent Cunningham into floods of tears.

During one of his post-match interviews, the head coach was then mobbed by his players, who also drenched him with an ice bucket, showing the relief felt all round.

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“The players obviously wanted to get me,” joked Cunningham in an interview with the BBC after a change of clothes.

“We’ve gone through a lot together as a group, it’s been a tough campaign and we’ve had some tough meetings trying to get better.

“It is challenging, but one thing this Welsh team will do is never give up.”

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Sisilia Tuipulotu’s try two minutes from time, converted by Lleucu George, earned Wales the 22-20 victory.

The hosts took the lead in the 16th minute through a try from hooker Carys Phillips but a minute later they lost the ball and Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi ran in, with Beatrice Rigoni’s conversion putting Italy ahead.

A penalty from Rigoni made it 10-5 at half-time, but Wales were back in front within four minutes of the restart, prop Gwenllian Pyrs diving over and Keira Bevan converting.

A Bevan penalty extended the lead to five points but Italy hit back with two tries from Francesca Granzotto and Emma Stevanin before Tuipulotu’s last intervention.

The result was not enough for Wales to avoid the wooden spoon but the crowd of 10,592 went home happy.

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