x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

England's 'little brother' Wales grows up to become a big bully

A year ago Ben Foden described Wales as the younger brother, but this year the England full-back is more measured in his discussions.

Ben Foden, the England full-back, was dismissive of Wales last year, this year he is more respectful.
Ben Foden, the England full-back, was dismissive of Wales last year, this year he is more respectful.

How times change. A year ago, Ben Foden talked dismissively about Wales being the "younger brother" that England needed to keep in their place when they travelled to Cardiff for the annual Six Nations battle of spite.

They managed it, too. Somehow. Given how time has treated the two sides since, it seems amazing to think England beat the Welsh, let alone won the title, 12 months ago.

This week, Foden, England's full-back, has been rather more measured. "Wales must be considered one of the top three or four teams in the world," he was quoted as saying, ahead of their arrival at Twickenham.

"If you can beat them in this competition with so much at stake it'll give us the boost of confidence to really take it to the next teams we play."

Consider England chastened. It has been a while since they have talked like the underdogs before a game against Wales.

That younger brother has grown up significantly over the past year. Younger, maybe. But smaller? No chance.

It is usually England who are the brutish oafs who blunder their way to victory by playing a power game with little rugby to savour.

The new Wales have comfortably got the measure of their bitterest rivals in terms of size, now, with a back-line full of monsters.

Yet they have sacrificed little in the way of skill, either. Big brother's little brother could be set to become the bully.

pradley@thenational.ae