The former Ospreys, Wales and Lions wingers Shane Williams sits down and talk to us about how to win the Six Nations. The Six Nations is the envy of the Southern Hemisphere teams for its close proximity, diverse teams and high competitiveness. The Welsh winger played over 80 times for his country and was loved by all in the game for his sheer pace and small size.
“Winning the Grand Slam is one of my highest achievements,” he says, speaking exclusively to sports betting firm Betway. “In ’05, that Grand Slam came out of nowhere. We weren’t expected to do particularly well in that Six Nations.
“We played tough rugby, we defended our hearts out. It was almost like a movie, winning that Six Nations, to be perfectly honest. That’s up there with the best of them.”
“Then 2008 was a great Six Nations for me personally, because it was when I probably played my best rugby for Wales. We won the Grand Slam, I won player of the tournament and then went on to win IRB World Player of the Year. That was a huge Six Nations for me, I absolutely loved it.
“Both of those rank in the top, top rugby achievements, I’ve got to be honest. It doesn’t come around that often, so I’m very honoured to have done it twice.”
The former Gaelic football player with Glenswilly explains the self-belief that the Welsh team had.
“It was just self-belief,” he explains. “I played in Wales teams that probably hadn’t given themselves enough credit, especially the players.
“We had some great players, but collectively at times we let ourselves down. Physically and skilfully, we were always up there with the best, it was just sometimes we didn’t quite believe in ourselves.
“And I think that was the difference in those Grand Slams. We backed ourselves, we backed our physicality, we were mentally tough, and we had a strong enough squad to get us through the tournament unscathed, and that was the difference.”
Since the tournament became the Six Nations with the introduction of Italy in 2000, a Grand Slam has been won in 11 of 22 years – Wales have four, France have three, while England and Ireland have two each.
“It’s extremely hard to win the Grand Slam,” says Williams. “As people who watch the Six Nations know well, it’s such a short turnaround, it’s only five games, you’re only playing five different teams. Surely it’s not difficult to win every game? I can assure you it is.
“You’ve really got to be on top of your game for the full tournament. The level of competition is so tight. One mistake in any international match and you lose the match, and then obviously your chance at a Grand Slam is over.
“You’re playing against some of the best teams in the world, some of the best players in the world. You’ve got to have a bit of luck along the way, you’ve got to make sure you don’t get any injuries, your discipline has to be on point.”
“Sometimes you find that you get on the referee’s right side, and sometimes your team’s annoying the ref, and the captain is not quite getting in his own way and decisions go against you. The problem is, when these decisions don’t go your way, it’s almost a snowball effect.
“You start to lose discipline, other players in your team that lose discipline. All these factors count, they really do.
“It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win.”
This weekend is another massive one with Scotland v France, England v Wales & Ireland v Italy sit back for another bumper weekend of rugby.