Wales head coach Wayne Pivac spoke for a nation when he described himself as feeling “numb” as midnight approached in Paris on Saturday.
Hopes of successful a Grand Slam had simply been crushed within the cruellest circumstances, with Wales conceding a attempt to France within the closing act of a match like no different in Six Nations historical past.
With 72 minutes gone, Wales led 30-20 and stood on the cusp of a second Grand Slam in three seasons, some transformation for a crew who had gained solely as soon as in final yr’s competitors.
But these aspirations went up in flames in a chaotic end.
First their self-discipline abandoned them, with Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams receiving Wales’ first yellow playing cards of the whole Six Nations, decreasing them to 13 males.
Then France pounced, scoring first by captain Charles Ollivon, after which deep into added time, Brice Dulin touched all the way down to seal essentially the most dramatic of French victories – and puncture Welsh desires of a primary Grand Slam secured on overseas soil since 1971.
Wales’ gamers fell to the turf in exhausted despair, the silence of an empty Stade de France interrupted by the celebratory howls of their jubilant opponents.
“It’s quite a numb feeling really,” Pivac stated.
“The boys have put in such a fantastic effort. We were down on players at that point. We were quite down on the penalty count at that point, 15-5 I think it was.
“We have been on a closing warning and we misplaced two gamers so it was very troublesome to defend at that time, 13 on 14.
“The guys had done tremendously well to hold out the French attempts at the goal line, which were several in the last few minutes.
“But it was only one too many.”
That was the overriding feeling for Wales after a thrilling encounter in which they had gone toe to toe with one of the world’s most potent attacking teams.
It also felt like a fitting summation of Wales’ Championship, which they had started with next to no expectations.
Pivac lost seven of his first 10 Tests in charge last year, with Wales enduring their worst Six Nations since 2007.
It was a surprise, therefore, when they beat Ireland in this year’s opening fixture, and even more so when they overcame Scotland a week later.
After a comprehensive win over England and a thrashing of Italy, performances were improving and Wales suddenly found themselves playing for a fifth Grand Slam in 16 years.
They took their game to another level again in Paris, playing with the kind of tempo and attacking fluency that many had hoped for when Wales appointed Pivac.
“It’s simply desperately irritating and the gamers obtained so shut and but thus far,” the New Zealander added.
“It’s a tricky time for them, however we now have to be pleased with the efficiency, pleased with the hassle we put in all through the Championship.”
Pivac was remarkably calm considering the mayhem of which he had just been a part.
But having come so close, it was difficult not wonder what if, what might have been.
“For us to go forward 27-20 with 20 minutes to go, there was a serious level for us,” Pivac stated.
“We obtained a unbelievable drive going and there was a yellow card and I used to be anticipating a bit greater than the yellow card, possibly a penalty strive, nevertheless it wasn’t given.
“That was frustrating because at 34-20 I think it’s probably Championship and possibly Grand Slam.”
As it was, the possibility slipped away – however not all is misplaced.
When Wales get up on Sunday morning, our bodies aching, emotionally spent, they’ll at the very least console themselves with the data they might nonetheless win the Six Nations Championship.
France’s celebrations have been significantly wild as a result of this bonus-point victory stored alive their very own hopes of successful the title.
Les Bleus should now beat Scotland in Friday’s rearranged closing recreation of the match, with a bonus level and a factors distinction of at the very least 21 to be topped champions.
“I hope they don’t,” Pivac stated with amusing when he was requested about France’s possibilities of pipping Wales to the title.
“Look, it’s a tough one. It’s a very good French side as you saw today.
“When we obtained to a place within the recreation once we ought to have kicked on, they only stored coming and coming. They’ve obtained plenty of large males they usually come exhausting on to the ball.
“Especially at home, they’re a quality side and it’s going to be a tough ask for Scotland to come here and win the game.
“But we’ll be watching eagerly and we’ll simply wait and see what occurs.”