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Can Wales derail the French Grand Slam bandwagon?

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Bryn Palmer | 11:28 UK time, Thursday, 25 February 2010

The resumption of Six Nations hostilities this weekend serves up a deliciously unpredictable trio of matches.

The tastiest of them, in terms of entertainment anyway, is likely to come in Cardiff tomorrow where the Millennium Stadium hosts the first Friday night match of the competition in Britain.

If it is anything like the first Friday experiment in Paris last year, which featured the same teams, a classic try for Wales full-back Lee Byrne and a frenetic, nail-biting finish, then we should be in for a treat.

Wales players look downcast after defeat to France in Paris last year.jpgWales saw their hopes of a second straight Grand Slam disappear in Paris a year ago

Twelves months on, the roles are reversed.

Last year Wales pitched up at the Stade de France in pursuit of a victory to keep them on course for a second straight Grand Slam, but were left with that 'could have, should have' feeling after throwing away a first-half lead.

This year it is the Tricolores who have a Grand Slam in their sights, and they have been ominously good so far in victories over Scotland and Ireland.

If Wales are to repeat their 2008 victory in Cardiff, the only time France have lost in the Welsh capital during the Six Nations era, there are four key areas they must get right.

DEFENCE

Wales have conceded five tries in their first two matches, three more than they conceded in the whole of their record-breaking 2008 campaign.

On the positive side, they have also scored five tries, as have France. But the current leaders have only conceded a solitary try so far, against Ireland, and their well-drilled 'blitz' defence has been one of the stand-out features of their game.

With Wales employing the same system under Shaun Edwards, there is likely to be precious little room in which the more creative midfielders such as James Hook can flourish.

Mathieu Bastareaud, shown here running at the Ireland defence, will pose a threat to Wales.jpg

Hook, whose missed tackle on John Barclay gave Scotland early impetus in the last round, faces a genuine test of his outside centre credentials, particularly in defence.

He will be up against the physically imposing Mathieu Bastareaud - France's answer to Scott Gibbs according to their backs coach Emile Ntamack - although it would be no surprise to see the bulkier Jamie Roberts switched to the 13 channel at times.

Back-row duo Martyn Williams and Ryan Jones were also mentioned on the missed-tackle front this week by Warren Gatland, who has told his side they "need to get into the [French] faces and be physical", especially early on.

If Wales don't heed their coach's call, it promises to be a long night.

LINE-OUT

Never a Welsh strength, the hosts' fallibility has been exposed again this year, with five lost line-outs against England and another three against Scotland.

The good news is that France have also creaked, perhaps the only phase of their game to show any obvious sign of weakness so far. They lost a couple against Scotland and four of their 12 throws against Ireland, where Paul O'Connell was a thorn in their side.

Unfortunately Wales don't have a line-out thief, or a lock, in O'Connell's class, in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones.

Instead, with Jonathan Thomas moving into the back row, they field a second-row pairing of Bradley Davies and Deiniol Jones with only five Test starts between them.

Wales contest a line-out in their recent Six Nations win over Scotland.jpgWales have struggled for reliable line-out possession in their first two games of this campaign

Thomas, one of the unsung heroes of the 2008 Grand Slam side, will call the line-out and it would be no surprise if Wales favour throws to the tail, where Martyn Williams is another option, rather than the front or middle.

France have also lost the experienced middle jumper Pascal Pape to injury, and his replacement Julien Pierre is starting only his third Test. But they are also boosted by the inclusion of Julien Bonnaire, a supremely reliable line-out operator, on the flank.

With uncertainty over the newcomers in both second rows, it may be a game where the back-row bandits top the line-out stats, and both sides suffer a few indignities.

SCRUM

The French obliterated the Scottish scrum in their opener at Murrayfield and also manoeuvred the Irish unit around to great effect in Paris.

The front row of Thomas Domingo, William Servat and Nicolas Mas, with former captain Lionel Nallet and Pape providing ballast from behind, have played a major hand in France's success so far.

That platform has allowed the powerful Imanol Harinordoquy to make huge inroads from number eight, and half-backs Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc the time to move the ball swiftly with the opposition defence already in fire-fighting mode.

Wales have done well so far at scrum-time, but this is a major test, particularly for loose-head prop Paul James.

If they find themselves in retreat here, big trouble awaits. If on the other hand they can gain some sort of parity, their prospects of victory will improve immeasurably.

ATTACK

An attritional, tight game would undoubtedly shorten the odds on a French victory. Unfortunately for Wales, the Tricolores are traditionally not too shabby when the game opens up either.

But despite the associated risks, a looser, fragmented game appears to be Wales' best bet of sowing seeds of doubt into a confident and powerful French outfit.

With Shane Williams and Lee Byrne both showing signs of recapturing their best form, and James Hook and Leigh Halfpenny elusive runners in congested areas, the hosts have the firepower to hurt the visitors if they generate enough momentum and quick ball.

A high tempo will be critical, so any opportunity for a quick tap penalty or a quickly-taken line-out has to be grasped to try to wrong-foot the French defence.

If Wales are on the attack, the Millennium Stadium atmosphere should be something to savour. "I can already imagine it," said France coach Marc Lievremont earlier this week. "The passion of the Welsh public is a trump card for their team. To win there would be an immense performance by us."

It will take a similarly high-octane effort for Wales to prevail too.

Coaches usually adopt the mantra that if their sides get their performance level right, the results will follow.

Conversely, after emerging with an unexpected victory from a below-par display against Scotland, my own suspicion is that an improved Welsh performance may fall just short of foiling the French.

What do you think?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Can Wales derail the French Grand Slam bandwagon?

    NO

  • Comment number 2.

    Great post Bryn!

    I agree that above all else Friday will provide a great specticle under the lights!

    I think the key battle will be Roberts and Bastareaud. I assume that Shaun Edwards will have a plan for the big man which should see two of the best centre's in world rugby going head to head.

    Seeing Shane Williams and Lee Byrne returning to some kind of form should also be encouraging for Wales. I have a feeling that Wales may just spoil the party by winning a close game.


    I just think that France may freeze on the night...

  • Comment number 3.

    For Wales to come even close then France will have to be well below their best as, on current form, France at 100% are a better side than Wales at 100%.

    Add in the fact that Basteraud and Jauzion are a better partnership than Roberts and Hook, half backs, again, the French have that one trumped and the pack, well that's a no contest, so that leaves the back three as Wales is best bet.

    With Byrne's boot, and Williams and Halfpenny's running ability a strong kick and chase game could be Wales best bet of a victory in this match, in fact their only chance.

    It's a shame for Wales that they are not at full strength, but Rugby is a squad game now, possibly more so than it has ever been and Wales and all nations have to have strength in depth.

    France by 10+

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't think the French will find it as easy to win away from home as the Irish will against England, but still feel they will have slightly too much skill for a Welsh side with key players absent...

    France to win by the odd try, Ireland to slaughter a talentless & ineptly-managed England.

  • Comment number 5.

    Performances to date show the French should do it.

    But, the millenium on a friday evening, the welsh playing off form previously but showing signs of putting together a top performance, the french side focusing on a young centre and a 'blitz' defence makes me think the boys could do it.

    Come on the boys!

    Oh and G_K_ couldn't be more right about a boring and over-coached England!

  • Comment number 6.


    another exciting weekend of rugby. ire v eng is always exciting. i think that game is there for either team to win.
    as for the wal v fra game...going on form it looks like an easy win for france but if wales decide to show up and playing at home they could cause an upset. which would be great for the championship.
    Ireland should win...and if Wales do an upset...then every team has lost one game and its anyones.

    my predictions:

    Ireland 22 : 12 England
    Wales 24 : 22 France

    :-)

  • Comment number 7.

    Wales 12 : France 34

    England 27 : Ireland 15

  • Comment number 8.

    As an Irish supporter I would hope Wales could win tomorrow evening but having seen the current French team demolish Ireland in all phases of play after the first 20 mins I can see the gallant Welsh being swamped. I have one proviso. If by any chance Wales can score 10 points in the first 20 mins then they're in with a chance. Ireland were unlucky on two occasions and lucky on a third. The first was the bounce that beat D'Arcy to a try in the first 10mins and the second when Healy (rightly)was sin-binned. Flannery should have been red-carded and was lucky to stay on. The lesson for Wales? Avoid penalties and sin-bins, and attack the French line-out.

  • Comment number 9.

    i don't see the wales-france game as a contest, France should walk it. The loss of Henson has really killed the creativity, forcing Williams to start looking for ball in dangerous areas, his weakness of old. Roberts is fine for impact, but moving Hook into 10 is the only was Wales can go forward.

    In terms of Eng-Ire, i reckon this will be a very close game, and England should edge it in the backs, as O'Leary will get planted unless he becomes a quicker distributor and stops taking the 5steps before delivering from the ruck.

    Scotland-Italy will be the most competitive game, and i really fancy the Scot, especially with the new level of invention and ambition introduced by (incredibly) Andy Robinson.

  • Comment number 10.

    4. At 1:55pm on 25 Feb 2010, G_K___ wrote:
    I don't think the French will find it as easy to win away from home as the Irish will against England, but still feel they will have slightly too much skill for a Welsh side with key players absent...

    France to win by the odd try, Ireland to slaughter a talentless & ineptly-managed England.

    i don't get this. Keith Wood tried to say something similar. England have good players, and were poor against a great Italian pack, but still better than the lack of, well, anything that Ireland showed against France. They looked like wooden spoonist, not Champs. And Kidney is the most negative coach i've ever seen.

  • Comment number 11.

    We know the French are a tough unit and perform well like most teams when they have the 9 10 balance right, which they have at present all other teams in the competition our still at the trail stage, Have Wales picked the correct paring I am not sure, I hope so or France will have the driving seat from the off as well as being in Pole, Forward wise they the French are better 3/4s well evenly balanced but home advantage and the Welsh crowd is our 16th man and as you know we play well in Wales with 16 players.

    Can we do it, my Heart says yes, My Mind says no France by 10 but as home is where the Heart is, its Wales by 5 for me - Allez Les Rouge

  • Comment number 12.

    Unfortunately we haven't seen anything from any of the other teams in the Six Nations which suggests they are capable of overhauling this French outfit. Wales will need to improve significantly in all departments to stand any chance - even with the Millennium X-Factor.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think that it will be closer than most people think although I believe that France will shade it,despite the fact that Pape is out but Bonnaire will strengthen their line out.As far as the tired,worn out cliche,beloved of over paid commentators"which team will turn up", I think that this applies to the Welsh team given their "game of two halves" in their undeserved win aginst Scotland.France have a determined look about them with a good settled half backs and a strong front row.Wales have to up their game on Friday.Having said all that, it should be a cracking game.Bring it on!PS is the roof on?

  • Comment number 14.

    LondonIrish, kick and chase??? Lets hope not. I think Wales will be underdogs and may not be strong enough, but putting boot to ball and then chasing it will be suicide, France will murder us on the counter.

    If we can gain parity in the set-piece we'll come close. As the old cliche goes its what team turns-up against us. Hopefully it will be the one that turned up against England last year, we might scrape a win then. Otherwise, I predict a strong French performance with a brave Welsh comeback at the end that will fall short of anything meangingless. It should be fun though!

  • Comment number 15.

    Sadly, realistically, Wales are unlikely to get any degree of parity in the set-piece as they are just not good enough currently as evidenced by their showings against England and Scotland.

    Therefore, while it may go against the grain, some other game plan will have to be considered, and breaking the game up, pushing for turn-overs may be their only real hope.

  • Comment number 16.

    first real attacking threat we are facing thus far in 6 nations, so ill be interested to see how we cope.

    the welsh have the ability to change a game within seconds, and i know everyon is waiting for France to self implode at some stage, as aparently we have a habit of doing so. i dont buy into that theory, we have won grand slams before and in WC we generally get beaten by better team, with exception of last WC.

    this was alwyas the game that worried me the most, the irish were not a real test in my opinion, and at least with the welsh we should see two sides playing rugby.

  • Comment number 17.

    ITS GOING TO BE AN EMOTIONAL GAME,and team spirits will carry us through together with a properly balanced back row,the first in ages.The back line is full of matchwinners as well so to my fellow Welsh supporters all I can say so far is "Ye of little faith "!

  • Comment number 18.

    Wales are really going to struggle on Friday night! Every Welsh man must realise how easily it could have read played 2, lost 2!

    I fancy the French to put a good 20 points on them. 

  • Comment number 19.

    While the bastareaud/roberts match up looks like deciding the midfield confrontation, jauzion is also a huge man who is back to some of his best form and if wales ignore him they will be in serious trouble. Both teams blow hot and cold but france seem to be mentally stronger at the moment so the smart money has to be on france.

  • Comment number 20.

    four key areas they must get right:
    DEFENCE
    LINE-OUT
    SCRUM
    ATTACK
    So what you mean is the whole game then?

  • Comment number 21.

    surely it HAS to be Wales and Ireland wins - that will mean 4 teams with 2 wins each and leading to one of THE most exciting endings to the 6Nations as a prospect to drool over!

    Wales due a match to click, France seem to play one match brilliantly then fall asleep the next - I am nothing if not optimistic here!! :-)

    England v Ireland, could be a bit attritional, perhaps decided on one flash of inspiration from one player that decides it

    Italy v Scotland - If the Scots play like they did for 70mins against Wales, they should run in a good few tries; and if Italy play with a little ambition as they tried against England - this could be a good game. Or both could revert to type, and it be utterly tedious...

  • Comment number 22.

    Looking forward to a great game of attacking rugby from the two best attacking teams in this year's championship. Let's hope the referee is up to standard. I do not rate Kaplan: he is too quick to blow and not let the advantage come. About time the wizard Welsh winger (Williams) began to show some form. The try he scored in the Scotland game was one my granny could have run in, long skirts and all! All the best to Wales. And I am English!

  • Comment number 23.

    Re-communicated : you said kidney is a negative coach...what he is is a humble coach. unlike the english when ireland win against italy they dont automatically think they are world number 1 and start planning the celebrations party for winning the grand slam. Kidney is very humble and talks with respect about every team.
    he has even said england are a team to watch...which shows just how optimistic and positive he is. england are talking about a grand slam after beating the worse wales team i've seen in years and should have lost to italy who have about 60,000 registered rugby players as oppose to england who have 2,500,000 registered players. thats nothing to be proud of.

    i think england will get a rude awaking this saturday. it will start slow most likely but 2nd half Ireland will have fun and run riot like they did in 2007 and id expect a 20+ victory for Ireland!

  • Comment number 24.

    i hope martin johnson never gets fired...its great having someone who has an ego the size of great britain and no matter what advice he gets he still thinks he is doing the right things even though he has a less then 50% success rate.

    "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" B O'Driscoll

    i hope now people know what he ment! :)

  • Comment number 25.

    Can Wales derail the French Grand Slam bandwagon?
    YES

    London Irish77 – you haven’t a clue.
    Every one of your comments lacks proof, credibility and a modicum of rugby nous and knowledge.
    Are you still sore at the way the Scarlets took your team apart recently?
    The MS will be red hot on Friday night and Les Bleus will feel the heat unlike any time since they were last here.
    Lest you forget http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/welsh/7295598.stm
    Expect the same result again.

  • Comment number 26.

    BiBRUM:

    Shane may have scored a try worthy of your granny, but to be fair, he made a try by drawing the Scottish defence, and created the initial break/space for the other one - so had a hand in all 3. The whole revival was down to him really, gabbing the game by the scruff of the neck - so his best game for a good while I thought. Now if only Wales had played like that for 80mins, or even for 10mins like that against England!!! :-)

  • Comment number 27.

    as an englishman i dnt like the welsh or the french, but, i do want the welsh to beat france, if they can somehow do wat they did against the scots, then they can easily beat the french, as they say in the championship, anybody can beat anyone on their day, and i hope its the welsh's day this weekend

  • Comment number 28.

    LondonIrish_77

    You have cleary made some enemies on here, as some of the posts in response are fairly vitriolic.

    I would suggest however that you think before you post:

    France are 100% better than Wales at 100%.....if you genuinly beleive that to be the case, why have you only given a French victory by 10+?

    You also mention the scrum, I seem to recall us pushing England all over the place a Twickenham, you won because WE were poor, not because YOU were good, accept that.

    and finally:

    7. At 2:06pm on 25 Feb 2010, LondonIrish_77 wrote:

    Wales 12 : France 34

    England 27 : Ireland 15

    These score predictions show how little you know of rugby......for England to score 27 points you'd need to be playing Irelands under 12's.

    Brace yourself for a Celtic hammering on Saturday! :)

    My predicts:

    Ireland 24 : England 15 (no tries, penalties and drop goals (yawn)

    Wales 31 : France 27

    Scotland 10 : Italy 12 (this is a joke by the way)

    As you were :)



  • Comment number 29.

    james mathew,

    "you said kidney is a negative coach...what he is is a humble coach."

    Humble? Wonderful for him, doesn't mean he's not negative. Johnson and the English players always praise their opposition as well (unlike Gatland and the Welsh).

    "england are talking about a grand slam" - Tell me where and when the England players or management have mentioned a grand slam! Oh dear.

  • Comment number 30.

    I love all these people predicting an English hammering,all the time forgetting that Ireland have never hammered England at home.

    As for the 24 to 15 score prediction,truly hilarious,that would mean a 30 odd point turnaround since the 2008 game.I just hope all these Celtic warriors are man enough to come on this site apres the game and swallow the humble, re the Welsh.

  • Comment number 31.

    @Rutland Ranger

    The very same could be said about England. Great first half against Wales, but in the second half, one misplaced pass cost us a win in my opinion, England were on thr back foot and looking shaky with 9 minutes left.

    Against Italy, England were dire, and a slightly better performance from the home side would have seen an Italy win.

    Wales have it all to do tomorrow, but a quick ball game at home may just edge the French out.

  • Comment number 32.

    The facts all point to Wales taking a serious pummeling - players missing, poor form, discordance in the camp, playing exceptional opposition, etc. But this is the sort of situation in which the six nations always seems to suprise and I have sneaking suspicion Wales might blow the championship wide open on Friday. Looking forward to it and a good weekends rugby.

  • Comment number 33.

    Wales 27 : France 24
    England 22 : Ireland 16

  • Comment number 34.

    Sad isn't it how the same people hijack a discussion about Wales v France to push out their tired bile & sledge other unrelated nations. Small people, small minds, small parts.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    I can't wait for the game tomorrow. On current form the french should win but as I always say about us northern hemisphere sides the fact is we cope very badly with being favourites. Hence i predict wales to see france as a scalp worth taking and going in as underdogs will be the kick up the prov that they need.....it's evens as far as i'm concerned. There is no favourite. Wales to win by 5 to 10 points.

  • Comment number 37.

    Great post Bryn, I enjoyed reading it. I can't wait...Cardiff will be amazing.

    As for the game I just haven't a clue. Wales have looked great at times but also very ordinary, France have looked dominant and strong and until recently consistent (yes that's consitent and France in the same sentence!).....but it's Wales and France. Two teams who you just don't know until on the night.

    France have always stumbled at the last hurdle, Wales have always started slow. I just can't decide. One thing, it should be a stunner as it always is between Wales and France!

  • Comment number 38.

    Here is what will happen: -

    A lacklustre start by Wales will result in a yellowcard and three early French penalties. A cocksure France with their tales up will romp into the lead with scores from Basteuraud, Jauzion and Trinh-Duc. France will go into the tunnel up 28-9 thinking they've got it in the bag and with one eye on a Paris showdown with England.

    At half-time Gatland will throw the coaching manual in the bin and just say to the team, just go back out there and play the 'Welsh Way'. With nothing to lose the boys will come out of the tunnel all guns blazing and one of the most sensational comebacks in Rugby history will commence. A Shane brace will be followed up by scores from Hook and Byrne, leaving the game delicately poised with the French leading 36-34 going into the 79th minute. Harinorduquoy will give away a penalty on the welsh 10m line, at which point a 20 foot hologram of Gavin Henson will be teleported into the Millenium stadium to fire the resulting spotkick straight between the centre of the posts, sending the whole of Wales into a state of collective delerium!!......hahaha

  • Comment number 39.

    Thanks for all your comments so far. A quick scan down shows that opinion seems to be about evenly split between those believing, or hoping, Wales can pull off an upset and those that think France will pummell them.

    Re: 20- jimmy_gwatkin - Yep, I think it's fair to say Wales will have to get just about everything right to win.

    Re: 35 - France have picked up their share of injuries, it's true, but I'd say they probably have more international-class players than any other nation. The prop Fabien Barcella was a big player for them in the autumn, but his replacement Thomas Domingo has done some real damage so far. Plus even with three injured wings, they can still afford to leave out the mesmerising Maxime Medard, a sublime talent when he's in form.

    Interesting stuff from France coach Marc Lievremont today: "Playing in such a hostile environment should galvanise the (French) team. It's under such pressure that great teams are born and prosper." Make no mistake, this is a big game for them. If they win a third straight Six Nations game under him for the first time, they really will be on their way.

  • Comment number 40.

    Me thinks there are too many things in the Welsh pack to go right for us to have a chance. Set pieces yes, but work at the breakdown has been rubbish as has tackling in the 1st two games. Cooper and Powell going is godsend total rubbish and Tom James is not international class. Defensively we seem to be missing Henson if you ask me, he organised the backs well as well as being a superb tackler.

    The Welsh locks are a joke, why there isn't there at least one experienced lock is beyond me...why not Gough? You need a bit of dog in the pack. D O'C does a fine job and ireland have missed him - Cullen is no substitute.

    Of course I am optimistic though Wales by 10 points!

    England v Ireland - reckon Ireland will squeak it. England are always hard to beat at home but were flattered by us in terms of scoreline - the result was right though.

    They do look over coached and bereft of ideas and Jamie Noon is hardly a step in the right direction either. Martin Johnson is a poor coach but the poor fella has been given a huge task with no experience. Lets face it the England players which are nowhere near the quality of Greenwood, Dawson, Back, Johnson etc, etc. He'd have been better off cutting his teeth on a club side before this. Ultimately he has poor judgement can't motivate the team in the way an experienced coach would. Their midfield as usual looks dynamic and sexton plays the line much more agressively than ROG. The Ireland back three are hugely destructive and dynamic - Ferris has been awesome.

    Ireland by 6 points. Borthwick to continue taking the positives, MJ to continue taking the yellow stuff.


  • Comment number 41.

    I'm surprised at the vast optimism over the possibility of a Welsh victory. France are a more talented team and a confident team in form. I really struggle to see how the Welsh will beat them. People seem to be basing England's chances on the basis of how they played Italy, and basing on the Welsh chances on how they played in 2008. On the basis of the Welsh so far, I think it could be a long evening for them.

    Oh, and the English aren't that bad. I don't know, but I may have been watching a different England vs. Wales game to a lot of people here. While England weren't good, they were better than Wales. And Wales were also outplayed by Scotland. This will make many enemies, but it seems to me that the Welsh are currently being viewed through rose tinted glasses.

  • Comment number 42.

    By the way, you can follow my updates from Cardiff on Twitter on Friday: http://twitter.com/BBCBrynPalmer

    Anyone going to the game, or watching it on TV, got any particular pre-match plans for this one? Or is it simply straight out of work and into the pub?

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm an avid England supporter and hate whomever we play against. However, I don't at all hold any animosity towards the French, far from it, but the way the Welsh love to stick the boot into England boils my blood.
    Saying that I would like to see Wales beat the France and it isn't to help the English cause. If we can't help ourselves then I don't expect help from others.
    Also let’s not spit insults at one another like your average dim football fan would. What’s the point?
    I do like watching the Welsh playing good rugby as its good for Northern hemisphere rugby, but more importantly rugby from the British Isles.
    I predict that France will beat Wales. I think they are on a big time high and in your attempts to smother their midfield, you’ll leave yourselves exposed elsewhere. But I really hope I’m wrong
    As for the England Ireland match, I hope Johnson can finally unlock whatever potential we have in our team, but due to the lack of evidence so far I wonder if he can. I want England to win but I get the nasty feeling Ireland will end up squeaking a possibly tight, fearful affair. Again I hope I’m wrong.
    Matt..
    Ps, those who will accuse me of being bias, my wife is from Dublin and sir name is Thomas. Thanks to my Grandad who was from Cardiff.

  • Comment number 44.

    Good posts for the most part but does anyone else get fed up with the Welsh diatribe of anti-English fervour? Wales compete for the 2 years following every World Cup then crow about how they're the next World Champs. In truth Wales haven't had a competitive team for 30 years. This year they were beaten by England and were incredibly lucky to scrape past Scotland. Tonight will be a drubbing at the hands of the French who are by far the best team in the competition. ROBERTS is the only bright light in an otherwise below average Welsh side but with 2 goons in the second row and a back row full of has beens and nobody's its no surprise that the pack aren't functioning. France by at least 20 and Wales to be 4th at best come April.

  • Comment number 45.

    England Ireland is a massive game for the competetion. France will win the Championship but these 2 will be vying for second spot. (Wales are rubbish and won't even figure in the lead up).
    Ireland have a good all round game but haven't clicked as a unit yet but they will. Their pack is awesome with the likes of POC, Heaslip and Wallace but the seem to struggling at half back. Sexton may change that.
    England will also click eventually and I think Flutey may be the man to make that happen. I look forward to BOD going up against Tait. BOD is a legend we all know that but Tait can really play and I think Flutey will draw defenders giving Tait space. I do think Borthwicks got to go though. He's like having your uncle playing out there with that ridiculous fixed grin he has. England need a Johnson or dare I say it a Grewcock type figure to steel them up front.
    If it its played open and the balls thrown about England by 10. Moody and Haskell are phenomenal ball chasers and will make a difference. If it gets tight and attritional then Ireland by 7.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    It's always possible for a team which takes on the odds to pull off a win, as long as it recognises that it is taking on the odds. The most reliable formula for achieving the inctreasingly-rare feat of toppling Goliath is to go to the trenches, eliminate mistakes, stay in range of the posts, and prey on errors by the opposition, as the French did when they toppled New Zealand in the last World Cup. (Romantics say the opposite: that the trick is to risk all, run everything from everywhere, and above all discount kicking. Their naivety is precious - to the other side, anyway.)

    The first question is whether the Wales side has the temprament to go to the trenches and what penalties for doing so and not succeeding (regardless of the consequences of not doing so) will be exacted by journalists and management. I suggest that most Welsh folk who count have played enough rugby to know what winning really takes and how it differs from exhibition games.

    The second question relates to the temprament of the French side. History suggests that Wales might well benefit by digging those trenches good and deep...

    ... but even then, this side has a lot of weak spots, and the premium on naked hwyl is going to be very, very high.

  • Comment number 48.

    Nice post archLionheart but lets not get carried away. England are getting better and at the moment Wales couldn't win thw World Cup but you never know whats round the corner. Remember 1997 when the English team went to Oz and were roundly hammered.... 3 years later they were unbeatable and 3 years after that they won the World Cup. I really hope Wales can produce a good side. I love rugby and hate to see pettiness overriding what these columns should be about... rugby.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    France by 7, Ireland by 7 and Scotland by 5 for this weekend. Wales have not played well since beating Scotland in last year's 6 nations and can't expect to just turn it on for this match against France. England are a pretty dysmal side at the moment and Ireland will have too much power up front with O'Driscoll to give Tait a lesson in try scoring in the backs. Scotland are actually developing into a decentish side (although they do have attacking limitations) and should have enough to beat Italy.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    How does an injured “experienced middle jumper Pascal Pape” not jump in the lineout, but can “providing ballast from behind”, in the scrum?

  • Comment number 53.

    If France continue there impressive form then the Welsh will struggle. Ireland to beat a team showung no signs of inspiration, form. imagination or confidence. Scotland to continue raising eyebrows with a comfortable win over Italy.

    Come on England, give us something to get excited about!

  • Comment number 54.

    archlionheart

    LOL @ you. Pathetic article.

    Ireland are going to SMASH England on the weekend and you'll be crying til the day you die.

    Ireland 98 England 0

  • Comment number 55.

    France had to deal with a total of 13 first choice players out since the beggining of the tournament, 5 of them since the Irish game and even though I still believe they can do something against Wales, it is going to be very tough and I wouldn't be to sure of the game results. I give France by a thread.

  • Comment number 56.

    archlionheart - an utterly worthless set of posts my son.
    Jiminoz - "Roberts the only bright spark" - are you having a laugh? You obviously haven't watched any of the games. Roberts while useful hasn't set the world alight this season, in our backs it was Hook v England and Lil Shane v Scotland.

    As I said too many things have to go right (which they haven't yet) for Wales for us to beat France.

    There is no getting away from the fact that Englands players are not world class and probably only 1 or 2 would make a French or Welsh team, and those would in all likelihood come from the pack e.g. Croft.

  • Comment number 57.

    gwilymbach, nice to see the Welsh continue to be so totally arrogant and full of themselves, thinking they and their players are better than than they actually are. Particularly after two dire performances thus far.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think on the evidence from the last round France will beat Wales by some margin - Wales were poor against Scotland, who are the weakest team in the 6 nations, so I think France will win by 14-20 points, possibly more if they score early.
    The England v Ireland tie I think will be pretty close. England's form has not been great so far, and Wilkinson had a howler against the Azzurri. If he has a bad game again, then I think England will lose against Ireland - if he finds some rhythm with the boot and kicks some good yards to keep Ireland playing in their half, then I predict England to win a very close game.
    As for Scotland, I think it's time to prepare the trophy cabinet to receive the wooden spoon! With the unfortunate injuries, and poor form I think the Azzurri will win to delight the growing legion of home fans

  • Comment number 59.

    wales v france - i think as long as wales play like they did in that last 20 mins against scotland they will win that game but looking at their other 2 games it will suggest they will start slowly and no disrespect to scotland but if we play like we did in that first half france will be too far ahead to catch up to i can see wales playing their best game of the championship because we are very similar to france but i can also see france playing their best game i would be delighted with a wales win but on paper its not likely

    ireland will hopefully beat england i think england are the wost team to watch in rugby they make it so boring and they lack so much creativity when there backs are quick and can do something fi given the chance how did wales lose to them i'll never know

    i would love to see scotland win and they should if they play like that as much as i liked seeing wales win i felt sorry for scotland they played the best 70 mins of rugby they have played for a long time and still didnt get a win mix up the game against wales with the defensive effort against australlia and scotland will beat italy easily and maybe they would fancy them selves against ireland and england

  • Comment number 60.

    Gwilymbach you're as foolish as you are blind. England outplayed Wales in every position at Twickenham... apart from in the centres and Hook was made to look good as England were focussed on stopping Roberts.
    Shayne Williams is a laughable joke. He runs in tries against Italy and Scotland and you Welsh boys think he's the new messiah.
    Byrne's a real find but Lil' Shayne should go back to the Krankies.
    As for no England players being World class and not being able to make a Wales team.... Get over it mate. They were good enough to beat you lot a couple of weeks ago with room to spare.
    We'll see who's not in the frame come the end of this season.

  • Comment number 61.

    On current form France should emerge as comfortable winners. Wales have so far not played well in this championship, it's true, and some people have mentioned that they could have easily have lost both matches to date.
    However, despite poor performances Wales did beat Scotland and were the better team against England. A big part in their failure to see off Scotland earlier and to anihilate a very average England team was played by extremely poor refereeing decisions. Against England the Welsh pack totally dominated the English scrum, but the ref continually got the decisions wrong - as Brian Moore commented - and so the Welsh dominance in that area of the game was lost. Against Scotland the referee waited far too long to sin-bin a Scottish player for their continuous and cynical "cheating" at the breakdowns. Once Scotland were eventually penalised there was only one team in the game - had it gone on for another 10 minutes Wales would have had a very comfortable margain of victory. Against England too Wales were the stronger side at the end and looked much fitter - the final points tally in no way reflects the performances of the two teams.
    International rugby has become much closer in recent years and refereeing decisions are often crucial to the final result of a game. Against France Wales have the consolation at least of having no obvious area of forward dominance which can be negated by the referee, and therefore should not suffer the frustration which that brings with it. Perhaps this will give them a psychological edge as they have no other option than to throw the ball about if they wish to win the game. It is a big ask though, as on current form the French - having beaten NZ away - are the best team in the world by some margin.

  • Comment number 62.


    if i hear another word about englands potential im gonna scream...england have been talking about their quality of players and the potential they have....the fact of the matter is that all these great players are just great club players!! besides englands oldies please name one of the young players who has played well at international level consistantly?
    exactly....none....but we keep hearing about their "potential" and what will happen when they show their "potential" yawwwwnnnnnn

    after ireland win by 20+ points it will be the same thing...oh england didnt play to their full potential today....yes they did...thats as good as they get....england are a really good club team (seems like a club with all the foreign born players on the team) and thats all...they are an average international team...and i predict they wont win another game this 6N!! who will give me odds?

  • Comment number 63.

    Wales v France

    If Wales can create an early score, perhaps get themselves 7-10 points ahead then they have a real chance. Having seen Wales play twice this 6N's I have been amazed at their fighting spirit. This will count for nothing if the French go a similar amount of points ahead, if this happens Wales will lose big time, perhaps as much as 30-15.

    England v Ireland

    Ireland could have been 10 points up in Paris and had this happened they would have gone on to win. I expect the Irish are hurting and basically look out England.

    Plea to England – please play some rugby, you are quite simply underperforming.

    Enjoy…

  • Comment number 64.


    no, France by 8-15 and England by 5

  • Comment number 65.

    The only way Wales can win is if they cheat as Lee Byrne did against Scotland (not to mention his nobbling of Thom Evans with his knee).

    France will also stuff England. They might just manage to beat Italy too.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nice to see the usual banter between ever optimistic Welsh rugby supporters who at least usually seem to understand the game and English soccer supporters who invariably sound like they don't and haven't. Here's a question - when did you last see someone walking round your local shopping centre wearing an England rugby shirt? 2003? The team that deserves to win the 6N and can then look to compete on a global basis is the one that plays the most entertaining but effective rugby with a defensive steel. After 2 rounds France seem to tick all those boxes, Ireland maybe when they focus, Scotland and Wales partially, Italy not at all. England apart from the time they were playing 14 men of Wales and did something proactive, actually look more on a par with Italy rather than Wales or Scotland due to their very limited game plan. Therefore unless Ireland get yellow carded they will win tomorrow and also quieten that embarrassing one verse rendering of 'Chariots'.

  • Comment number 67.

    Wales v France

    If Wales can create an early score, perhaps get themselves 7-10 points ahead then they have a real chance. Having seen Wales play twice this 6N's I have been amazed at their fighting spirit. This will count for nothing if the French go a similar amount of points ahead, if this happens Wales will lose big time, perhaps as much as 30-15.

    England v Ireland

    Ireland could have been 10 points up in Paris and had this happened they would have gone on to win. I expect the Irish are hurting and basically look out England.

    Plea to England – please play some rugby, you are quite simply underperforming.

    Enjoy…

  • Comment number 68.

    I hope France hump Wales. B4 some whinging Taff starts bleating, it's just soor grapes for nicking it from us the other week!!

    England will bore Ireland into submission. Anyone for Rugby tennis?

    The Pastafarians v Sweaties game will be crap as usual... unfortunately. I hope not but it'll be a long day in Rome so pass the Grappa!!

  • Comment number 69.

    hammersmithjack

    Good post and pretty much dead on.

  • Comment number 70.

    My god have IQ's and the ability to read dropped sharply? I have said that England deserved to win, no doubt about beating Wales. I have also questioned our main area - the pack which is crap. How is this arrogant?

    Jiminoz - Your are welcome to an opinion I don't agree, but I repsect it. Lil Shane, well world player of the year speaks volumes, or have you disregarded this? Over 40 international tries or doesn't this count? You can't bang on about the RWC 2003 (which was well deserved and been coming for a while) then decry others for their laurels. A completely teenage arguement.

    I am welcome to my opinion but equally you don't have to agree. The whole point of these forums is to debate at an adult level. Surely you boys (steve as well) can take a little challenge? This is turning into one of the football forums - all they go on about is how wonderful they are want no challenge and end up navel gazing.

  • Comment number 71.

    Jiminioz, calling
    "Shayne" (nice spelling variation, very creative!) Williams "a laughable joke" (what other kind are there?) merely undermines any valid opinions you may have about the game of rugby. He was voted Player of the Year in 2008 not by uninformed bigots like yourself but by a panel of experts. He doesn't only "run in tries against Italy and Scotland" but has scored against every major nation in world rugby. In the past England have had great teams and have deservedly dominated the 6 Nations. Right now, unfortunately, they are situated alongside Scotland, just above Italy in the pecking order. There's no sign for optimism in the near future either. So just grow up and accept reality, rather than trying to make yourself feel better by putting other people/nations down.

  • Comment number 72.

    Nice post hammersmithjack - we are overly optimistic! Would I be any different....no!

  • Comment number 73.

    Hammersmithjack, i often wear any one of my England shirts, i have a draw full mate.

    This is how i saw the England vs Wales match. Not much between both teams until the yellow card and once that happened England looked confident and took our chances well. As soon as you were back to 15 men and put us under pressure we looked like we were going to loose.

    However, we didn't and yes it was down to the yellow card, but did anyone give England an ince when we kept getting players sin binned? No, you didn't.

    My advice is take it on the chin, suck it up and wait until next year.

    Matt..

  • Comment number 74.

    France will wipe the floor with Wales, and then the Welsh team will all end up in Vodka Revs drowning their sorrows.

  • Comment number 75.

    Quite simply yes.

    France were made to look a lot better than they were, due to Ireland's abysmalness (that is a word). France's forwards were awesome and should dominate the Welsh scrum, with so many absent. However in the backline I fancy Wales to shade it. Home advantage should help Wales, but unfortunatly I still fancy France to win. I think it'll be a lot closer than people are giving Wales credit for though.

    By the way I'm not bitter about our loss 2 weeks ago. Not at all.

  • Comment number 76.

    Long Day in Rome, you're quite right about Italy - Scotland. We might have got a bit of attacking penetration from Scotland if they had managed to stay injury free, but with 3 of their best backs out it will be a struggle. I'm not looking forward to it.

    Just how many times have we had all of CP and both of both sets of brothers available? A good reliable stand-off would be nice. The forwards are not bad in the loose but in the scrum? So we are back to relying on interloping "Scots" from the Southerm Hemisphere!

    But I still think we have a chance of beating Engulund this year.

  • Comment number 77.

    Not giving France a head start and leaving an unrealistic task for the last minutes (which only worked against Scotland cos all their backs were broken, off the field or playing someone else's position) should be key to Wales's approach to France (and Ireland, and Italy). If they can be ahead or in touch when the game's broken up, they can win - Roberts can bust the lines; Hook is just class, as are Shane, Halfpenny & Byrne, so as long as the forwards measure up... otherwise I'll be on the first golf buggy out of Cardiff!

  • Comment number 78.

    Have been reading these blogs off and on for a couple of years and have enjoyed reading peoples views and the friendly (most of the time!) banter - so thought I'd join in.

    The truth is that both Wales and England are not playing well at the moment. I'm Welsh and am getting particularly frustrated watching Wales as I know we can play much better. The players have proved they're good enough by winning a slam and also playing well for the lions. Unfortunately we haven't played well since Scotland in the last 6N - apart from a few glimpses here and there. I agree with many of you that if Wales start slowly again then it could be a heavy scoreline against us - as France look really good. If we can re-produce our best, keep the score close in the 1st half we've got a chance.

    Now England. I think England have an average side who still play the old england way of 2003. Don't get me wrong that was very effective - you won a WC - but this pack now is nowhere near as good. Therefore by playing a 10 man game (ok you throw it out wide maybe twice a game) based on the old ways is not going to win tournaments like the 6N. You'll pick up a few wins but the better teams - Ireland and France will compete up front and take victory by out scoring you with tries. You deserved the Wales win but the score was flattering, while you struggled in Italy. I'd like to see England be more expansive as the likes of Flutey, Armitage, Tait are good attacking players. But it will take time - it won't happen overnight. If they continue to play the way they are they are going to come unstuck - starting with Ireland on sat. These guys are the reigning champs and I can't see England scoring enough points to beat them.

    My predictions:

    Wales 24 France 20 (in my heart) Head says Wales 17 - France 26.
    England 17 Ireland 27
    Italy 15 Scotland 22

  • Comment number 79.

    No jimmy_gwatkin . That's not the whole game - what about kicking?!
    Score prediction - I reckon France will shade it by 7 points....

  • Comment number 80.

    Bartonalan - yeah you have been unfortunate with injuries. But it is coming together and it's good to see. I like the Evans boys, spikey and agressive, although Thom for me is the standout. He runs good clean crisp lines.

    I think you'll take the Italians. Your back 3 (killer B's) looked handy against Wales - defo played us out of it. I don't think they were undone that much by France either. As you say its the backs are the issue right now.

  • Comment number 81.

    Looking forward to this. I know Wales aren't exactly favourites - but that's maybe a good place to be psychologically. If the bounce goes our way, you never know...

    Which is perhaps more than can be said for England and Ireland, where I think you probably do know. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to that one too. Here's some highlights in advance. Jonny's Easter-Island-Statusque features in close up as he goes into that familiar gentleman-at-stool crouch. Then a shot of the crowd, jowls aflame, fists punching the air in triumph as Brian Moors toasts the three-points reward for that early pressure. A little later, a repeat of the same thing. Brian's voice will be coming from high up in his larynx by now, while in the background a lovely choir comprising thousands of amply-nourished estate agents and financial planning consultants serenade their brave warriors with Swing Low Sweet Chariot. It's enough to bring a sob to the throat of any neutral. But then the next close up might be of a Very Angry Martin Johnson frightening people around him as a wheel comes of that sweetest of Chariots. And by the end, Brian Moore will be angry with England too, even pretending that the various Irish tries were well deserved. Yes, looking forward to it.

  • Comment number 82.

    I think that Wales have looked a bit lethargic and slow out of the blocks in their last few matches. They look to be reactive at the moment and dont get going until the game has slipped out of their hands. Against France we have to hit the ground running and take the battle to them. If we can put passages of play together and keep the ball for prolonged periods I'm sure we can rattle them and knock them off kilter. If we put them under pressure and disrupt their game plan I think they will implode and lose their discipline and composure. No doubt they have looked the strongest so far in this competition but history tells us that the French are fickle. Wales by 10 if we can do the above....we wait and see!

  • Comment number 83.

    Look most of the other bloggs are prob from english supporters, so here go,s the boys will do the best they can how many times in the past have we been the underdogs, we have heart we have the belief we have the best team in the world, win loose or draw, I am Welsh I will always be Welsh and I will always be shouting for the 15 . The boys will run until they drop , they will try to the bitter end , so at home in the pub or at the game lets show the French just how load we are . O and by the way you english will get vattered by the Irish.

  • Comment number 84.

    Davydark, don't get too carried away about France being comfortably the best side in the world. They may have won against a developmental XV in New Zealand, but they also lost 39-12 the last time they played, in Marseilles, against a touring New Zealand side that wasn't the strongest they've ever sent north (in fact, a New Zealand side that was a moment of composure away from drawing against Wales). Don't get me wrong. They're clearly playing the best rugby in the northern hemisphere at the moment, but they've got a lot to prove before anyone will take claims about dominating the world game too seriously.

  • Comment number 85.

    Really looking forward to the game tonight. Of all France's fixtures, this one always seemed the least winnable for them.

    Despite Wales' stuttering start to the tournament, they still have the toolbox to unlock Les Bleus. But they MUST get off to a good start in Cardiff and establish some sort of lead. With 'scoreboard pressure' and a cauldron atmosphere, we will then see what this French side is really made of.

    Although France have a poor recent record against England - including matches in Paris - you get the feeling that if Wales don't upset the applecart tonight, the French are long overdue a convincing win over England and will seal the Grand Slam against the Red Rose in Paris.

  • Comment number 86.

    23. At 4:24pm on 25 Feb 2010, james mathew wrote:
    Re-communicated : you said kidney is a negative coach...what he is is a humble coach. unlike the english when ireland win against italy they dont automatically think they are world number 1 and start planning the celebrations party for winning the grand slam. Kidney is very humble and talks with respect about every team.

    I'm sure Kidney is indeed a top bloke, but come on, what a bizarre thing to say about England.

    I'm sure there were many and various forceful responses to the Italy game among England fans, but rest assured, rooting out the bunting and commemorative tea sets will not have troubled the top 10.



  • Comment number 87.

    G_K___ wrote...
    "I don't think the French will find it as easy to win away from home as the Irish will against England, but still feel they will have slightly too much skill for a Welsh side with key players absent...

    France to win by the odd try, Ireland to slaughter a talentless & ineptly-managed England."

    You must have broad shoulders to carry so many chips on them - open your eyes watching the England Wales game again and you will see a limited England side comfortably build a good lead against a Wales side posing little threat. Only a poor England decision of throwing the ball around in their own 22 gave Wales an opportunity which they took to make the game closer, got the crowd going and England stopped doing the basics. Up until that moment, Wales were truly awful. And only managed to beat Scotland when the Scots self-destructed.

    Honest opinions of this years six nations:

    France

    Finally put together a side with ALL the attributes required of a world class side, big strong pack, explosive backs, play rugby in the right areas.

    England

    Starting to have shape to their game - once that's in place they can and will develop more options. Managed to get well clear of the Welsh without doing anything much. Did what was necessary in Italy. Johno will have the team fired up to the right level to win the big matches (e.g. Wales, and Ireland tomorrow) - except France - who if they can keep their consistency will walk to a Grand Slam.

    Ireland

    Looked poor against Italy, but were efficient enough to get the job done with a degree of comfort. Completely outplayed against France - how good were France? Or did Ireland not show up??? The core of this team have been around for 7/8 years and achieved the evasive Grand Slam. Looking like a team on the slide with some great players heading towards the end of their careers.

    Wales

    Hard to understand what has happended in the last two years - still with the core of the Grand Slam team. Confidence has completely disappeared. Don't seem to know what to do with the ball in hand to create chances from early phases - limited try scoring options seem to come from broken play and the give it to Shane playbook.

    Scotland

    Looking a much improved side, playing some very good structured rugby. Play the ball in the right areas of the park, strong defense, aggresive at the breakdown. Still have problems creating enough chances to get sufficient scores on the board - especially if Patterson isn't available.

    Italy

    Again much improved, pack as good as ever, they can keep the ball for as long as they like as they showed against England with 14 men. Trouble is they like Scotland can't fashion enough chances to get enough points on the board to have a chance of winning against the stronger sides.

  • Comment number 88.

    "However, despite poor performances Wales did beat Scotland and were the better team against England. A big part in their failure to see off Scotland earlier and to anihilate a very average England team was played by extremely poor refereeing decisions. Against England the Welsh pack totally dominated the English scrum, but the ref continually got the decisions wrong - as Brian Moore commented - and so the Welsh dominance in that area of the game was lost. Against Scotland the referee waited far too long to sin-bin a Scottish player for their continuous and cynical "cheating" at the breakdowns. Once Scotland were eventually penalised there was only one team in the game - had it gone on for another 10 minutes Wales would have had a very comfortable margain of victory. Against England too Wales were the stronger side at the end and looked much fitter - the final points tally in no way reflects the performances of the two teams."


    Yep - that pesky ref was the deciding factor all right! I even spotted him going over in the corner for a couple of five-pointers whilst issuing multiple sin binnings and dropping a goal.

    All hail the mighty Wales: teams don't beat them - they just score more points, the sky isn't blue, Phil 'The Power' Taylor is a highly tuned athlete, my drinking will be restricted to two pints tonight etc. etc...

    Good luck tonight. Hope you boys do the business, but let's at least have a poor impression of a balanced analysis.


  • Comment number 89.

    france to win defo, but imagine if we have a repeat of Scotland vs Wales? Looking forward to it!

  • Comment number 90.

    Comic, listen, I know our friend was being a little over-emphatic, and I'm not sure I'd really want to blame / thank the ref for the outcome of the Wales England game, but did you actually watch the second half of the Scotland game? I have to say, I think the referee had a very poor match. The reality is that someone in blue should have been in the bin a long time before the 70th minute, and the Scottish front row were taking the mickey somewhat. Wales will feel they could have had a penalty try and maybe a yellow card decision for Scottish shananigans in the scrum alone, let alone their cynical infringements at the breakdown.

    And the reason it's relevant is simply that it undermines the impression that a heroic and deserving Scottish effort was inexplicably overthrown by two extraordinary yellow cards in the last ten minutes and four minutes of controversial if brilliant attacking verve. It is certainly true that Scotland were the better team in the first half, and comfortably so for the first twenty minutes. They boxed smarter until at least 50 minutes into the match. And undoubtedly Welsh errors were a major factor in the match. Defensive errors gave Scotland a massive headstart. Offensive errors meant Wales butchered a number of clearcut scoring opportunities.

    But it seems to me that one of the main reasons Scotland were able to preserve their lead against a Welsh side with all the ball in the second half was because they were allowed to repeatedly infringe in the scrums and at the breakdown. If foul play is allowed to disrupt first phase possession and recycling in attack, any team will struggle to get on the scoreboard.

  • Comment number 91.

    This is the best laugh ive had for a long time. Wales are doing well, oh dear an interception. Working hard ,oh dear another interception. Give me more please.....

  • Comment number 92.

    is it just me or has jonathan davies lost the plot. his commentary tonight was woeful. i think that bbc licence payers have a right to neutral commentary and i am getting fed up of his inane and welsh biased comments. this is not an isolated episode and what makes it worse is that in previous seasons you could rely on him to make informed and incisive comments.

  • Comment number 93.

    In first half, the French played very well : effective defence, opportunist interceptions...

    They, wrongly, believed the match was won and they loosened.

    In these circumstances, the Welsh, better played and the French underwent the Welsh pressure.

    In the end, the score is relatively tightened, but to be honest, without this guilty slackening, I think that the French would have been able to win with a bigger score.

 

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