[Carmarthen Journal] We can't under-estimate the importance of last weekend for the national game.
Not so much the EGM in Port Talbot that still left important
questions to be answered about whether provincial rugby is viable
but the performance of Jonathan Humphreys' rejuvenated Wales
This small country of ours might not have unity off the field but on the pitch on Saturday Wales expressed a togetherness and commitment for the cause we could have only dreamt of after the Rome debacle.
We in Wales had feared and predicted annihilation and worried about the fall-out of a fourth consecutive home beating by the English.
It didn't help last week that former England prop Jeff Probyn was calling for a reorganisation of the Six Nations into a two-tier tournament.
How depressing would that be?
But I think there was even a desire among the England supporters in Cardiff that Wales produce a performance that was at least competitive.
The white-shirted fans love beating the Welsh but even they are getting fed-up with watching thrashings. They want to spend their money on watching more even contests.
And to a large extent they had that on Saturday and I was just so relieved that Wales put a up a show.
And to be honest I thought I would never see it after the team were shell-shocked in Rome.
Full credit to Steve Hansen, Alan Phillips and co for turning around a desperate situation.
Hansen pressed the gamble button by bringing back Humphreys and changing half his team but he almost hit the jackpot.
What Humphreys did was get his players playing with their hearts on their sleeves. He showed that there is a place for raw passion and pride in the modern game.
I remember last year in Twickenham after another one of those one-sided encounters looking on rather depressed as I saw a few of the England players jogging to the after-match function laughing and joking. They didn't look like they had been involved in an international.
How different on Saturday. The England players knew they had been in a battle royal. Some of them even had to be helped off the pitch, so intense was the commitment from the opposition.
Will Greenwood summed it up when he said the England players knew they had been in a match and Clive Woodward said the Wales encounter was as hard as any of the autumn clashes against the southern hemisphere Big Three.
I was worried England would win a wealth of possession in the line-out but Wales got it dead right there and Robert Sidoli really deserved the man-of-the-match award for his tenacity up against Martin Johnson.
Johnson spent most of the first half complaining to the referee. That just warms the cockles of a Welshman's heart to see that.
But after all that we didn't win the game. We as Welshmen still have to face up to that.
England took their chances Wales didn't. But I'm not going to blame Mark Taylor for that.
He has been vilified for not passing to Rhys Williams, but there are only a few hundred people in this country who know what little time you have in international rugby.
Taylor should be given credit for the break in the first place and huge credit also has to go to Jason Robinson for stopping him. I implore you to look at the incident again - Robinson's defence was world class.
Whatever the merits of the England clash Wales are still looking for their first win in the championship.
And Hansen's boys go to Murrayfield as favourites in what increasingly looks like a wooden spoon decider.
Wales have been favourites in Edinburgh before and come seriously unstuck. After all we haven't won there since 1997.
I don't want to get involved in the politics and I have yet to be convinced about regional rugby. But what I do know is the Scottish model hasn't worked.
The club game - once the lifeblood of Scottish rugby - has all but disappeared.
These days the once great rugby heartlands of Gala, Melrose and Hawick seem to be just signposts on the way to Edinburgh.
The formation of Edinburgh, Glasgow and now the Borders seems to have ripped the spirit out of the club game up north.
And that is largely reflected in Scotland's form.
They might have beaten a poor South Africa side in the autumn but they have since had thrashings at home to Ireland and in France last Sunday.
Their coach Ian McGeechan, a legend in Scottish rugby, looked completely helpless with a side that has yet to cross the whitewash in this season's tournament.
But Wales must be warned that Scotland will go back and lick their wounds for the next 10 days or so, will regroup and fancy their chances of putting Wales to the sword on Saturday week.
Though the Wales display exceeded everyone's expectations on the weekend I would still make changes for Murrayfield.
The back row looks like it needs some more bulk and I would seriously consider putting Michael Owen or Colin Charvis back at No. 8 especially as one of Scotland's main strengths is in their loose forwards.
And although Ceri Sweeney did well for a young kid, if Stephen Jones is fit I'd put him straight back in the side even though he will have been out for more than a month.
There have also been calls for a change in the front row where Ben Evans is under threat, but whether they go for Gethin Jenkins or Martyn Madden remains to be seen.
Whether Wales go to Scotland as favourites or not, what I am delighted about is that all those thousands of Welsh fans who have saved hard-earned cash over the last two years will travel with a bit more of a spring in their step.