The future of Welsh rugby looks bright according to Wales Under 18 team manager Will Thomas after he saw his side claim the third place play-off against France in the Fira European Championship held in Poland last week.
In a tight affair, the young Welsh side were staring down the barrel of defeat at halftime with France leading 16-7. The French side, who had already beaten their opponents in March, looked odds on to claim the honours when they shot out to a 30-17 lead but two late converted tries by fly half Jarrod Evans saw Wales snatch a 31-30 to avenge their earlier defeat in Chartres.
Shaun Pearce's try in the first half kept Wales in the game while Thomas Phillips effort brought his side back into the game midway through the second spell after France had shot out to a 23-10 advantage.
Wales showed plenty of grit and determination to get back into the game, which Thomas conceded, if it had been played a month or so ago, victory would probably have eluded them.
"The results over the tournament - and not just the third place play-off show how far this team has come in a relative short space of time," he said.
"It was only a few weeks ago we were beaten comfortably by England at the Gnoll but we so nearly overturned that result and lost only to a last minute penalty while we recorded a narrow win over Scotland in our first game of the tournament.
"To finish off with a win against a very strong France side was very pleasing. The entire squad showed plenty of team spirit to drag themselves back into the game. It shows how far they have come as players but also the coaching staff deserve a pat on the back.
"Shaun [Connor] stepped up to the plate alongside his coaching staff and support staff and created a strong and positive environment with their huge amount of hard work and detail in their delivery which was very much reflected in the results we achieved."
FIRA U18 Championship results:
Fri 11th Apr 14 Wales U18s 23 - 21 Scotland U18s
Tue 15th Apr 14 Wales U18s 9 - 11 England U18s
Sat 19th Apr 14 Wales U18s 31 - 30 France U18s
Robin McBryde and son Billy are set to represent Wales on either side of the globe over the coming weeks with Robin travelling to New Zealand as Wales assistant coach and Billy competing at the World Rugby U20 Championship (Manchester, June 7-25). WRU TV caught up with the pair and captured a unique perspective into the factors that produce such a high-achieving rugby family.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde is predicting a tough battle against England on Sunday despite the fact they may not be considered to be at full strength. Players will be out to impress Eddie Jones which makes England a dangerous proposition, he says.
Forwards coach Robyn McBryde says tomorrow's RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy gives Wales an opportunity to finish second in the tournament after having the wind knocked from their sails last week against England.