In her final 2022 Six Nations column for BBC Sport, Olympic sevens star and Wales wing Jasmine Joyce reflects on Wales’ best finish in 13 years, the overall success of the tournament and being fined in Kangaroo court!
It is never nice to lose.
It would have been great to finish the campaign on a high with victory over Italy in front of our home fans, but we need to look at the bigger picture.
We finished third in the Six Nations, our best result since 2009, which is absolutely fantastic.
Before turning professional I was training to be a teacher, so if I were to stick my teaching hat on, I would probably put a C on Wales’ report card. It shows we passed the test, but there are still massive improvements to be made to get us to the A and A star grades.
We have got a few months together now before we go to the World Cup in October. We will be having training camps in Canada and England and looking to build on our Six Nations performances against the best teams in the world.
Best Six Nations yet
The tournament as a whole has been a huge success both on and off the pitch. The competition is getting so much better, and that comes from more teams having professional contracts.
Looking at Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy, it has been very competitive between those four teams which is fantastic.
Yes, England and France are ahead of the rest of us, and it will take some time to close that gap, but you have to remember we have only been contracted since January.
I think we showed in that first half against England and the second half against France how far we have come in just a few months.
Hopefully a few more contracts will come out before or after the World Cup which will allow us to have more time together, then we will be flying!
Having our own standalone tournament has been brilliant for publicity and getting the fans in. I know we had a record-breaking crowd in Cardiff for the Scotland game and England had multiple record-breaking crowds.
Win or lose, we always take time to speak to fans after games. It is so lovely to hear comments like “you’ve made my little girl or little boy want to play rugby.” That is what we do it for, obviously we want to win, we want to play for Wales, but we want to inspire the next generation, and hopefully we have done that.
For Wales, I think it has been the best campaign we have had for a long time. We had two great bonus-point wins over Ireland and Scotland and culture-wise, the environment is brilliant.
As players we all get along, there are no clicks, and you could sit on a table with anyone. Credit to the coaches as well, they are easy to talk to and easy to approach.
I know we did not finish the way we wanted to against Italy, but we enjoyed Super Saturday. After the game we joined our friends and family in hospitality and watched England beat France.
I am not sure how many of us managed to get to see Ireland Scotland, we had had a few by then! It was just so nice to see everyone relax and let their hair down after a tough few weeks.
We held kangaroo court and dealt with all the fines. They are completely random things throughout the tournament, I was well up there as one of the biggest offenders if I am honest.
I am not sure how many I can disclose, but there was one where Gwen Crabb did her hair really nice for the England game and got fined for having ‘wedding day hair’ so she had to wear a veil all day.
Cruising into summer
I am heading straight back to Bristol Bears now where we have a couple of massive games to finish the Premier 15s season.
We play Harlequins on Saturday at Ashton Gate where we have sold something like 4,000 tickets, so the atmosphere it is going to be like another international fixture.
And then come June, we get a whole month off. I think it was pretty much Christmas when I last had a week off so I am definitely looking forward to it. We have booked a cruise, so it will be proper chill time.
We will definitely need to have a good rest as I am hearing Wales’ pre-season training in July is going to be savage… bring it on I say!
Jasmine Joyce was speaking to BBC Sport Wales’ Ceri Coleman-Phillips.