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Jasmine Joyce column: Going out with a bang against Italy

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Published in Rugby
Wednesday, 27 April 2022 03:03

In her latest BBC Sport column, Olympic sevens star and Wales wing Jasmine Joyce talks about finishing the Six Nations on a high, her duty as a role model and looking forward to a much-needed summer holiday.

France was always going to be a tough one. They are a top three team in the world, but it does not make the result any less disappointing for us.

We had the belief we could go out there and win.

Looking back on our performance there is plenty there to work on, but then we also showed glimpses of what we are trying to achieve.

It was another slow start from us, something we cannot afford in international rugby, especially against these top teams.

We will be working hard to improve that this week, we need to come out firing straight from the whistle.

We want the first 20 minutes to be our 20 minutes, we will be going in with fight and determination against Italy.

We showed how well we can start against England. I think we had only conceded five points in the opening quarter against the best team in the world.

So we can do it, it is just about getting that mindset because we know we are going to be strong in the final 50 minutes or so.

No underestimating Italy

We have been underdogs in the last two rounds, but I think people are expecting us to win at home against Italy, but they are going to be no easy task.

They come to Cardiff on the back of a great win against Scotland and some contracts have just been announced for their players as well. They are going to be excited and wanting to show what they can do.

We have just got to go out there, believe in ourselves, put in an 80-minute performance and finish the campaign on a high.

We want to make ourselves proud, and there are so many people coming to watch us, we want to make them proud too and thank them for all the support they have given us.

The support this year has been insane. On top of the record crowd of almost 5,000 against Scotland, we had almost 3,000 people at the Arms Park on Friday for an 8pm kick-off. We expected a little bit less if I am honest, but we were thrilled to see so many people there.

The bigger picture

At the end of the game we always go over to the crowd to show our appreciation. It is never easy to put on a brave face after a loss, as we are there to play international rugby, we are there to win first and foremost.

But in the long-run, there is a lot more that goes with playing for Wales, we want to help grow the game.

We are role models and want to inspire the next generation, so taking the time to speak to young girls and boys who want to be in our position is massive.

We are so excited for the final game. We have come a long way since January, with contracts being in place.

I am not going to lie, it has been a hard graft, but we want to go out and finish the Six Nations on a high, and not only get the win but put on a show.

Three wins was a realistic target for us, although we optimistically believed we could beat England and France.

If we beat Italy, we finish third in the championship which is a huge improvement on the wooden spoon last year.

In the six campaigns I have been involved in with Wales, I do not think we have finished above fourth place, so this would be a real sign of our progress.

Going out with a bang

It will definitely be tough in camp this week. We are in Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, there are some tired bodies at the moment and a few niggles kicking in, some of us have not stopped playing since January.

But this is the last push and we just want to go out there and perform like we did against Ireland and Scotland and make the country proud.

Some of us will be going straight back to our Premier 15s clubs afterwards, especially those involved with teams who are going to be competing for the top four.

My team Bristol take on Harlequins and then Exeter after that.

I think we are all looking forward to June when we have a whole month off, and pretty much all of us have booked a holiday which we cannot wait for.

But first things first, Italy.

We want to put in a really good performance, finish third and know we are in a good place come the World Cup in October.

Jasmine Joyce was speaking to BBC Sport Wales' Ceri Coleman-Phillips.

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