Warren Gatland makes Tier 2 plea and backs Rugby World Cup change after nervy win

Jared Wright
Wales head coach Warren Gatland during a press conference at the Stade de Nice, France.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland during a press conference at the Stade de Nice, France.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland hopes that Tier 2 nations will get more Test matches after securing a nervy 28-8 victory over Portugal.

The scoreline might not suggest a particularly close game, but Portugal fronted up to the Welsh challenge at times, with Wales scoring at crucial points during the game.

An early Louis Rees-Zammit try got the ball rolling for Wales in the eighth minute, but it was only when co-captain Dewi Lake forced his way over the line before the break that Gatland’s charges scored again.

Jac Morgan extended the lead to 21-3 in the 55th minute before Portugal scored their first try of the tournament in the 63rd minute, a wonderful set lineout move which saw Nicolas Martins charge over the whitewash.

Portugal showed real fight throughout the 80 minutes, but after a red card for winger Vincent Pinto, Wales got their bonus point score with time up on the clock as Taulupe Faletau secured the full house of pool points for his side.

Developing Tier 2 sides

“It’s brilliant for the game. I thought Portugal showed a lot of enterprise, and you could argue Uruguay were a bit unlucky [against France],” Gatland said after the match.

“It’s important that we continue to develop these tier-two nations.

“There might be a situation where we can increase the number of teams in the World Cup to 24, and that would continue to help grow the game.

“That is an important aspect. You don’t want top-tier nations dominating; you want upsets – as long as I am not a part of it!

“I think it’s a real positive going forward to see teams competing and pushing other teams close.”

Portugal have the capacity

Full-back Nuno Sousa Guedes has no doubt that regular exposure against leading nations is what Portugal requires.

“If we could keep playing games like this, it is the main thing,” Guedes said.

“For the kids back home who are starting out, it would be a very good step.

“In Portugal, it is always soccer. We want to show the world that it is not only soccer.

“We have the numbers in terms of rugby and some good kids coming up. I think we have the capacity.”

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