King Dan has Stood Down . . . Time for Sam to be The Prince of Wales

The World Cup is over for Wales and an era has come to an end.

Dan Biggar has played his last match for his country, it is likely Leigh Halfpenny has also done so, whilst both Gareth Anscombe and Liam Williams will not be available for the next Six Nations as they will be based in Japan.

But Biggar – who turned 34 on Monday and won 112 caps during a 15-year career at the top – insists the future is bright as Wales now build towards the next World Cup in 2027.

As the fans mull over the missed opportunities of the 29-17 quarter-final defeat to Argentina in Marseille, there is the silver lining of young stars emerging to replace those who are leaving the stage.

The tournament saw further progression for players like Biggar’s expected fly-half successor Sam Costelow, squad co-captains Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake and Exeter forwards Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza.

And there were those who did not make the final 33-strong World Cup group – centre Max Llewellyn, wing Tom Rogers, prop Keiron Assiratti, plus locks Ben Carter and Teddy Williams, among others – that give further cause for optimism.

“This young group have driven standards and pushed us to keep going,” said Biggar. “I have got no doubt they will achieve some really good things if they keep the squad together and allow boys like Sam Costelow some time in that 10 seat, and allow him to drive it and make it his team.

“I sat Sam down and told him to make this team his own going forward. I told him ‘my time is over – this is your time, so make it count’.

“I am sure he will because he is a huge talent with a bit of genuine X-factor about him. He can develop into a real leader.

“A strong core of young players will have learned so much from this experience, and they will know that they have got the talent to rub shoulders with the best of the best. I really think the future is bright for Welsh rugby.

“Hopefully people will remember me for being passionate and caring about every moment.

“I am going to miss it. I didn’t think I would be particularly emotional – I almost thought I would be relieved – but there is definitely a bit of sadness. I am going to miss it in the months and years to come.

“I think it will be raw for a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks, but when I reflect back on my career, hopefully I will be fairly pleased with what I have done.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland’s deal with the Welsh Rugby Union contains a break clause to allow for a review after this tournament, but if he is given the green light to continue, his contract would run on until the next tournament in 2027.

If he makes it, that would be Gatland’s sixth World Cup finals, one in charge of Ireland and five more with Wales.

The New Zealander turned 60 during his time in France with the squad, but insists he wants to remain at the hem.

“We’ve got to make sure we continue to grow as a team,” he said. “There are some exciting players coming through, some players who aren’t here.

“Hopefully they will be inspired by this group and want to make sure they work hard to be involved going forward.”

“I am incredibly proud of the work these players and the whole staff have put in. We have made some really good strides.

“We need to continue on that path. We don’t want to be going backwards, and that is a good challenge for us to accept and make sure we continue to keep improving.”