A 10 for every occasion

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If I were to give one tip to someone trying to sound like they knew what they were talking about when it comes to Welsh rugby, I’d tell them to just simply ask the question ‘so, who should have the 10 jersey?’.

Sixteen hours later the other person may well finally stop speaking after debating with themselves the pros and cons of Dan Biggar v Gareth Anscombe, perhaps saving a mention for Rhys Patchell too while noting that ‘Jarrod Evans is the future’, before finally coming to the conclusion that ‘none of them are as good as Benny anyway’.

The same fly-half argument has been taking place in rugby clubs, shops and offices, as well as on social media of course, up and down the country, with opinions pretty evenly split down the middle of Biggar and Anscombe.

Now there is an element of bias in some of the arguments, with Ospreys fans generally favouring Biggar and Cardiff Blues fans generally favouring Anscombe, and I am aware that I wear heavily blue tinted glasses but I will try to remain as objective as possible in this opinion piece.

The truth of the matter is that both Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe are international quality fly-halves.

Biggar has proved over 66 caps that he can comfortably operate at the highest level, starting all five games as Wales won the 2013 Six Nations title, playing at the 2015 World Cup and touring with the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

Dan Biggar Italy
Dan Biggar has been involved in the fly-half debate for around seven years now

Anscombe, on the other hand, is newer to the international scene but in the last year has proved that he can cut it in the red 10 jersey, leading Wales to a first win over Australia in 10 years and an unbeaten Autumn International campaign.

Unfortunately there seems to be this idea that you have to have just one clear front runner to start at fly-half in every test match, however I am here to ignore that does not necessarily have to be the case, and as it happens, the opening two rounds of this year’s Six Nations have been a case in point.

Away in France on a rainy Paris evening the game was perfectly suited to running a tight and controlled kicking game, keeping the big French pack moving and helping Wales play in and attack from the right areas.

Then in a dry and fine Rome against an Italy side that had shipped 33 points against Scotland the week before, the aim of the game was picking the lock of the Italian defence and converting territory into points.

Hopefully you’ll be reading that and coming to the conclusion that it should have been Dan Biggar starting against France and Gareth Anscombe starting against Italy, and Warren Gatland managed to select them the wrong way round.

Gareth Anscombe Australia
Gareth Anscombe was the holder of the 10 jersey in November

More than that though, it will hopefully help you to realise that the question that needs to debating is not ‘who is the Wales fly-half?’ but ‘which should be the Wales fly-half this week?’.

We are in a privileged position of having two very good 10s, both of whom have different skillsets that can be applied in test matches depending on what the opposition team is bringing to the table.

There is no great chopping and changing of the half-backs, just two gameplans that Wales have already used over the last 18 months to two years and are comfortable with, the trick is simply knowing which one to use on any given weekend.

That is over to Warren and the coaching staff, but to finish the piece by putting my head above the parapet, Dan Biggar starts against England for me.

With the English pack having already bullied both Ireland and France, our Welsh pack is likely to be met with a similar fate, therefore Biggar starts as a better operator off the back foot, before Gareth Anscombe is unleashed to cause last quarter havoc as he did in Twickenham last year.

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