France 28 Wales 9: Wales miss golden opportunity much to the anger of Gatland

Warren Gatland accused his Wales players of “failing to turn up” against France after watching them crash to the heaviest Six Nations defeat of his reign.

Gatland’s side arrived at the Stade de France with an outside chance of capitalising on England’s earlier grand slam misery, but they suffered a meltdown of their own to slump from second to fourth in this season’s final standings.

The 28-9 defeat was also their worst for five years and head coach Gatland said: “Very disappointing performance by us. We conceded too many turnovers in the opposition half and some soft penalties as well at a couple of key moments.

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“Unfortunately for us, I don’t think we turned up tonight.”

Gatland questioned his side’s ability to handle the weight of expectation on them following England’s defeat in Ireland.

“We had an opportunity tonight,” he said. “Sometimes as a team we love the underdog tag, we love when we’re under a bit of pressure. But when the expectation is that we go out there and perform, we’ve struggled with those expectations. For me, that’s the disappointing thing.”

If Gatland’s players failed to turn up figuratively, defence coach Shaun Edwards was absent literally in Paris.

Edwards did not travel with the squad having been disciplined following an alleged confrontation with a fellow member of Wales’ backroom team after last Saturday’s victory over Ireland.

“That’s an internal matter that I’m not prepared to discuss in public,” said Gatland when asked if the matter had adversely affected his side’s preparations.

Captain Matthew Rees simply shook his head when asked the same question, while Gatland ruled out tiredness at the end of a long campaign as the root cause for Saturday’s performance.

Revealing they had eased off physically this week, he said: “From our point of view, we didn’t feel as mentally sharp as we needed to be for this match.”

Wales’ cause was not helped by the early departure of flanker Sam Warburton, who hobbled of after 16 minutes with a knee injury.

“Sam being injured was a big loss for us,” said Gatland, who revealed Warburton would undergo a scan. “I think he’s been one of the players of the tournament.

“Hopefully, the injury’s not too serious and it doesn’t keep him out for too long.”

After losing their opening game to England, Wales arrived at the Stade de France on the back of a hat-trick of wins.

France, meanwhile, were still smarting from defeat to Italy, one of the most humiliating losses in their recent history.

Gatland said: “After the criticism of last week, they were desperate. France played a very simple game plan.

“Unfortunately we made mistakes that allowed them some very simple points.”