In scenes that would be repeated in Paris a few hours later as Ireland’s Johnny Sexton left the world stage with his family, Dan Biggar’s time as Wales fly-half ended earlier than he had hoped in a tearful family reunion after a quarter-final defeat to Argentina in Marseille. Like Sexton, Biggar (pictured) wore his Wales heart on his sleeve throughout his long career. "That’s been my character from day one really," said Biggar. "Hopefully people will remember me for being passionate and caring about every moment. I am going to miss it. I didn’t think I would be particularly emotional, I almost thought I would be relieved, but there’s definitely a bit of sadness." With 13 friends and family staying at his house in nearby Toulon, where he will continue playing club rugby, he had plenty to console him.
Try of the Tournament
The first two tries Wales scored against Australia both had moments of individual brilliance, but the third put the cap on the record 40-6 victory as captain Jac Morgan touched down from a rolling line-out maul, summing up the all-court awesomeness of Wales’ display.
Quote that said it all
"I can’t control myself. I don’t know what happens, I just black out," Nick Tompkins said after his try against Australia. One of Wales’s outstanding players, the centre entertained fans and media with his quick wit off the pitch too.
Man of the moment
At just 23, Morgan announced himself on the world stage. He produced a Man of the Match performance against Portugal having been called upon when Tommy Reffell was injured in the warm-up, while his assist for Louis Rees-Zammit’s crucial try against Fiji had the commentator drooling: “Jac Morgan, are you kidding me with the cross-kick?”
One for the future
Already an established star, as he proved with five tries in the tournament, Cristiano-Ronaldo-loving wing Rees-Zammit should still have most of his international career ahead of him at just 22 – and Shane Williams’ Wales record of 58 tries in his sights. Pace and x-factor to burn.
From the Touchline
Based in Versailles for the pool phase, Wales repaid the welcome they received with a visit to the Institut Medico-Educatif (IME) Le Rondo, a school for pupils with additional needs run by the French Red Cross. Morgan, Josh Adams, Ryan Elias, Johnny Williams and staff put the kids through their rugby paces with some adapted drills.
"You could see just see how happy the kids were – that’s the main thing," said hooker Elias. “The smiles on their faces, they really enjoyed themselves. Also it was a chance for us to teach them a little bit about our culture. They were colouring in the Welsh dragon, they knew what the Welsh flag was then, so it was a great morning."
Wales made the most tackles of any quarter-finalist, averaging 166.8 per game, 42 more than the next highest. That tone was set in their opening game when they made a Rugby World Cup record 252.
After a disappointing 2023 Six Nations campaign beset by off-field issues, Welsh rugby fans were fearing the worst from a tough Pool C, but in the end would have felt disappointed not the make the semi-finals. Warren Gatland knows how to prepare a team for a World Cup having taken Wales to two semis and a quarter-final in his previous spell as head coach. Inspired by the nail-biting victory over Fiji in the opening game, Wales swept through their group only led a lead slip against Argentina. "A loss in a quarter-final, tears running down your face, that’s a feeling you never want to feel again,” hooker Dewi Lake said.