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BATH RUGBY: Paul savours Millennium magic
PAUL James says he’s never experienced anything like the match which ensured he would become a back-to-back Six Nations Championship medal winner.
Prop James appeared as a late substitute as Wales completed a 30-3 mauling of England in the tournament decider last Saturday, packing down opposite clubmate and England replacement Davy Wilson.
The home side’s dominance in the front row battle ensured it was James who returned to Bath’s Farleigh House base this week sporting a wide grin, as well as clutching Wilson’s shirt from that match.
“To be honest, I’ve played in the Millennium Stadium a lot of times now,’ said James, 30.
“People say it’s the best stadium in the world and I’ve never felt anything like it.
“The atmosphere there was unbelievable – from both sets of fans – and it was just a great place to be.’’ The manner of Wales’ triumph took many by surprise, but James believes it was the culmination of the team’s improvement after a rocky autumn series and opening defeat to Ireland.
“We just believed in ourselves,’’ he said. “Obviously we had a disappointing first game against Ireland but we just knew we had to stick tight and just build.
“You don’t turn into a bad team overnight. We went away, worked hard, had a few words in house and kept building our performances as we went on.
“I wanted to be starting more, but the game time I did have I was very happy with. I was just happy to be involved again.’’
James admits the next step for his country is to replicate Saturday’s performance against the likes of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
“I think it’s got to be,’’ he said.
“We’ve won back-to-back Six Nations titles so the next time we come up against one of these (southern hemisphere) teams we’ve really got to knuckle down and get that monkey off our back. Then I’m sure we’ll be fine.
“We’ve come so close the last three or four times we’ve played Australia. We’re gaining more experience, we’ve been through a lot of tough times and we’ll come through the other side.’’
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