Dan Biggar admits he “could not care less” if Wales rode their luck to book a place in the World Cup semi-finals. The Six Nations champions will tackle South Africa in Yokohama next Sunday after edging out quarter-final opponents France 20-19.
Wales trailed until the 74th minute, but Ross Moriarty’s try and a Biggar conversion secured a second last-four appearance in the last three global tournaments under head coach Warren Gatland.
France played most of the second half with 14 men following lock Sebastien Vahaamahina’s red card for elbowing Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright in the face.
“We were pretty terrible in the first 40 minutes,” stand-off Biggar, pictured, said. “The red card changed the game, there is no doubt about that. We probably got a bit lucky. We have to count ourselves a bit lucky, but, if you want my honest opinion, I could not care less. We are in a World Cup semi-final and have played some good rugby in this tournament so far. Sunday was not one of those days, but a lot of teams wouldn’t have the character and desire we have to find a way.
“That’s what is important. You get no points for style, no bonus points at this stage of the tournament. “
It was Wales’ 20th victory in their last 23 Tests against all opponents as they delivered another example of digging deep to win a game when backs were against the wall. And it has left them just 80 minutes away from a possible first World Cup final appearance, where England or New Zealand would await.
“There probably isn’t a formula,” Biggar added. “What you have got is a group of guys desperate to achieve and who are prepared to dig deep. The coaches know they are lucky they have a squad of players here who will dig as deep as anyone in the tournament. Looking at the quality of the rugby in the other quarter-finals on Saturday, we were certainly below that, but what we have in abundance and as much as anybody is a desire and a fight not to give in. To play South Africa next week we are going to have to be a lot better – there is no getting away from that – and that will be the general theme of the week.”
Biggar, meanwhile, is set to be cheered on by his wife and young son next weekend. “It has cost me a few quid, flying the wife and little one over now – that’s the only downside of it,” he said. “It will be great to have them out here. Ultimately, that is the most important thing, that is why a lot of us are doing this, the sacrifices they are making.
“It’s pleasing that we are here for another two weeks, and hopefully we have two games to potentially change the rest of our lives. It is really exciting, and we just feel in a really good spot after a scrappy performance, but there was lots of character shown. But ultimately, we would take the same performance next week if we come on the right side of the scoreboard. It’s all about winning rugby games now. If we win two games in two weeks, it will be a good couple of weeks.”
Wales, meanwhile, are set to call a back into their World Cup squad as a replacement for back-row Josh Navidi, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. Gatland said: “ We’ve got six back-rowers, and we’ve got five fit at the moment. We have been a little bit short in numbers in the backs, so it probably will be a back who comes out as a replacement.”
Cardiff Blues wing Owen Lane and Ospreys centre Scott Williams appear to head the list of candidates.