Very few people gave Wales any hope as they came into this 2021 Six Nations.
Performances and results had been poor in the 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup and the form of other teams made Wales’ chances of victory seem slim at best.
But, Wayne Pivac’s side are now Triple Crown holders and 2/1 favourites to win the entire competition.
It has been an incredible turnaround for Wales that has mainly been down to some strong defensive performances, individual moments of brilliance and maybe a splash of good fortune.
While statistics often do not tell the full story, they do shed light on the key areas that Wales have been good and bad in during the Six Nations so far.
It is clear when looking at the statistics that a strong defence has set the foundation for Wales' success so far, which may come as a surprise to some.
Wales have made 560 tackles so far in the competition, a figure which puts them way ahead of Italy who are in second place with 399.
Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau and Alun Wyn Jones make up the top three players with most tackles with 55, 53 and 49 respectively.
In fact, six Welsh players make up the top 10 players with the most tackles, with Tomas Francis, Ken Owens and Josh Navidi being the other three.
This is clear evidence of the incredible work rate of the Welsh forwards, as well as them being happy to play without the ball for long periods.
Similarly, Wales have won the most turnovers within the tackle area with seven, just edging out France by one.
The defence has had to work harder partly as a result of Wales’ lack of possession. They have averaged 44.6% across the three games but against England they surprisingly recorded 55%, which is likely down to England’s poor discipline.
While the lineout improved against England last Sunday it still remains an area of concern. Wales have had 36 lineouts and lost eight of them across their three games, which is a lot at this level of rugby.
To put it into perspective, Ireland have had 31 lineouts and lost just three. These small margins can make big differences in games.
Interestingly, Wales lead the ranking in most metres kicked which suggests they have prioritised territory over possession, and this would then support the idea that they are putting a lot of faith in the defence and rightfully so given the stats mentioned previously.
This tactic of defending from the front is something Wales were fantastic at under Shaun Edwards and thanks to the addition of Gethin Jenkins as defensive coach and the reintroduction of more experienced players like Owens and Faletau, Wales have successfully done this so far in the Six Nations.
It’s clear that Pivac has got his side playing to their strengths, which revolves around hard work, tactical nous and being clinical when it really matters.
Wales have scored 10 tries in their three matches so far, and they haven't played Italy yet. They've secured two bonus points and put 40 points on England for the first time ever. That is title-winning form.