Wales defence provides perfect testimonial for emotional Shaun Edwards as he seeks new challenges

Architect of the red wall watched its finest performance of his seven-year spell alongside Warren Gatland at the Millennium Stadium.

Red forge: Shaun Edwards hugs Jamie Roberts after Wales' victory over Ireland Photo: REX FEATURES

Red forge: Shaun Edwards hugs Jamie Roberts after Wales’ victory over Ireland Photo: REX FEATURES

If this is to be Shaun Edwards’ last Six Nations campaign as Wales defence coach, which he hinted it might well be, then this will be his calling card for future employers. The seemingly unstoppable green machine met its match in a red wall forged brick by brick by Edwards.

Even if Wales’s total tackle count was downgraded on Sunday from 289 to 250, it was still a staggering feat of endurance and spirit, epitomised in particular by the contributions of Luke Charteris, Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones. No doubt it was the finest defensive performance of Edwards’ distinguished seven-year tenure at the Millennium Stadium, the only question is what else surpasses it? France’s 2007 World Cup quarter-final defeat of New Zealand at the same ground? Rorke’s Drift?

Other questions abound. What now for Wales and Edwards? Unsurprisingly, there was a high cost to their Herculean efforts. Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins, their first choice props, are almost certainly out of their final game against Italy when they need to bridge a 25-point gap to stand a chance of winning the Championship. Richard Hibbard, the hooker, and Jamie Roberts, the centre, also sustained concussion and a dead arm respectively.

There will be plenty of other sore bodies for the medical staff to treat when Wales gather at their Vale of Glamorgan base today while Edwards must summon one more push in what could be his Six Nations swansong in Rome. Edwards has already intimated that he is open to seeking fresh challenges when his contract expires after the World Cup.

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