Wales fly-half Dan Bigger said after the match: “It was absolutely exhausting. The last 10 minutes felt like the clock never moved.”
In fact the clock was moving, and across the 80 minutes it registered that Fiji had spent exactly 10 minutes in the Wales 22 with ball in hand – a full four minutes more than the next best team in round one.
Fiji also made the most carries of the opening round (176), made the fourth-most metres (654m) and were third best for defenders beaten (34).
In the end, Wales had to put in 252 tackles in order to win in Bordeaux, the most by any team in the opening round – and a new Rugby World Cup record.
It was only the sixth time in the tournament’s history a team had completed 200 tackles in a match, and comfortably beat the previous record of 218 by Georgia against Australia in 2019.
The top three tacklers in the opening round of games all came from Wales, with second-row Will Rowlands (27), prop Gareth Thomas (23) and flanker and captain Jac Morgan (20) leading the defensive charge.
“You cannot make that many tackles if you are not fit and have that ability to get up and go again,” said Wales’ assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys after the game. “The mindset and fitness was excellent.”