Wales’ ‘fortunate’ tag hinges on two huge questions amid opposition’s unprecedented collection of crimson playing cards in 2021

In an more and more intensive back-catalogue of sage sporting quotes, there may be one which has gained extra traction and longevity than most. It got here from the lips of golf legend Gary Participant.

As Participant practised his bunker play earlier than a spherical at a event within the States, a fan wandered to the aspect of the inexperienced simply because the South African holed one from the sand.

“I’ll provide you with 50 bucks if you happen to gap the subsequent one,” stated the previous boy carrying a giant hat.

In went the subsequent one.

“100 bucks if you happen to gap a 3rd,” got here the cry.

In went the third.

“Goddamit you’re the luckiest son of a b***h I’ve ever identified,” exclaimed the shocked hustler.

Which prompted that quote. Participant, so legend has it, replied: “The extra I apply, the luckier I get.”

It’s maybe as a result of Participant’s pearl of knowledge goes to the very coronary heart of the age-old debate about the way you outline the idea of luck in sport that it has stood the take a look at of time.

What constitutes good luck on a discipline of play? Do you actually make your individual it doesn’t matter what the circumstances? Does it actually even itself out when all is claimed and accomplished? Is there some intangible increased energy which rewards those that work hardest? Does fortune really favour the courageous?

Have been it doable to reply such questions we might have a extra correct concept of the place Wayne Pivac’s Wales stand because the e-book closes on their 2021 story.

The victory towards Australia was one thing of a microcosm of your complete yr; Wales achieved one thing to genuinely shout about – a win towards one of many southern hemisphere huge three – however have been removed from completely convincing and owed their success to greater than their fair proportion of the rub of the inexperienced.

For the sixth time this yr, a member of the opposition obtained a crimson card. To Bobby Valetini’s fifteenth minute dismissal add Eire’s Peter O’Mahony (thirteenth minute), Scotland flanker Zander Fagerson (53rd), France lock Paul Willemse (68th), Argentine full-back Juan Cruz Mallia and Eroni Sau, the Fijian winger (twenty fourth) only one match earlier than Australia.

All have been despatched off towards Wales this calendar yr and every choice – aside from those towards Willemse and Mallia – preceded a Welsh victory.

Wales squeezed dwelling towards Eire (by 4 factors) and Scotland (by one). They have been pushed all the best way by a Fiji aspect which regarded effectively able to inflicting a shock in Cardiff whereas taking part in with their full complement. They misplaced to France going for the Grand Slam in Paris and drew with the Pumas in Cardiff in June, regardless of the choice arriving after simply half an hour.

Within the newest instalment of 14 versus 15 on Saturday, Wales made excruciatingly arduous work of urgent dwelling their further man benefit, which was two males whereas Kurtley Beale was within the sin-bin.

Inevitably due to this fact, the slenderness of the 29-28 victory shall be seen by many as a lucky end result.

Bitter grapes? On the a part of some, unquestionably. However ham-fistedness, the like of which we noticed towards depleted sides, is what supplies oxygen to these attaching the fortunate tag to Wales’ 2021 observe file.

It’s a tough factor to counter.

The rivalry that Wales can solely beat what’s in entrance of them, that opposition crimson playing cards are out of their management, is in fact true sufficient.

However the concept put ahead by some apologists that it has been the strain Wales have created, the dominance they’ve loved, which has compelled these incidents to materialise is way tougher to justify.

O’Mahony’s flying arm into the top of Tomas Francis was 100% worthy of a crimson, however Wales solely acquired dwelling by 5 factors taking part in towards 14 for 67 minutes.

The Fagerson incident stays essentially the most contentious name of the six. The Glasgow prop was banished for an unlawful clear-out to the top of Wyn Jones. The Scots, naturally, have been up in arms, however even former Wales captain Sam Warburton sympathised with Fagerson.

Commentating for BBC, Warburton stated: “I feel that is harsh if you are going to give him a crimson card. Wyn Jones is a risk, he can choose that ball up legally. As a result of he is tucked his elbow it would not look pretty much as good.”

The flashpoint occurred at a essential time of a tense and evenly-matched encounter, undoubtedly serving to Wales pinch victory by a solitary level.

Willemse’s offence, an eye gouge when poor Jones the sufferer as soon as extra, had the potential to inadvertently ship the Grand Slam for Wales, who nonetheless had 12 minutes left and have been forward 30-20 on the time. As an alternative they conceded two tries to depart Paris broken-hearted.

Within the time since, we’ve seen Mallia, Sau and Valetini all appropriately dispatched at completely different levels of the primary half.

Mallia and Valetini went for poor deal with method which resulted in a clashes of heads, and Sau for a second of sheer stupidity when he needlessly swung and arm on the head of centre Johnny Williams.

However whereas 5 out of the six reds drew little debate in themselves, we’re primarily desirous about two questions.

Firstly, Wales gained 4 of the six video games and drew 20-20 towards Argentina, however what number of of these matches would have seen them keep away from defeat had these crimson playing cards by no means occurred?

Secondly, how most of the offences have been as a direct results of Welsh superiority or opposition desperation below strain?

In case your reply is none and none, then Wales acquired fortunate in 2021. They usually acquired fortunate as a result of in half the matches they performed, any person taking part in towards them did one thing recklessly silly and acquired themselves despatched off.

After all, Wayne Pivac’s males deserve a level of credit score for avoiding crimson playing cards themselves.

It’s a statistic which can immediate some to laud their self-discipline – however a look at Wales’ 2021 tally of yellows requires a quietening of any applause.

There have been six in all, Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau (v France), Dillon Lewis (v Argentina, first Check), Hallam Amos (v Argentina, second Check), Rhys Carre (v South Africa) and Gareth Thomas (v Australia).

That’s double the second worst sin-bin offenders among the many dwelling nations, England, who picked up three.

Eire and Scotland had even much less, with one and two yellows respectively, although they each had reds – the naughty Scots selecting up two.

No person will ever know definitively whether or not Wales acquired fortunate in 2021 due to this crimson card anomaly. We are able to solely surmise based mostly on circumstances and assumptions about seemingly match outcomes.

Subsequently, let me surmise… Wales acquired fortunate.

Although Gary Participant would most likely disagree.

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