Key Clash Preview: Wales v France

Date: 15th October 2011
Time: 09:00 BST (21:00 NZST)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Alain Roland (IRE)


I don’t know about you, but last Saturday morning already feels like a lifetime ago. Well it certainly does as a Wales supporter anyway. Fortunately the long wait is nearly over, for what is quite simply the biggest game in Welsh rugby history. Imagine both recent grand slam deciders put together, and then some. It’s over twenty-four years since the men in red last reached the semi-finals, and that was at a time when the World Cup meant very little, in comparison to the pinnacle of rugby it is now. The hopes and expectations of a nation are resting on the shoulders of the fifteen Welshmen who take to the field at Eden Park.


The basket case of world rugby. Lose to Tonga one week and beat England the next. Are the coaches or senior players in charge? What exactly is Lievremont trying to achieve with his ‘tache? Is it all by accident or design? As ever with the French these questions have few logical answers. On paper they have a team that can beat anyone on their day, but such has been the disharmony, even by Les Blues standards, goodness knows what team will turn up. Although having said that, the underdog role, as shown last week, more than suits them.

What to Expect:

Wales will continue to try and play expansively, looking to push home their much-feted superior fitness. France on the other hand will be a bit more conservative, looking to take advantage of the bulk they possess up front, especially in the tight.

All Eyes On:

Losing Rhys Priestland to injury is a massive blow for Wales. Instead they have turned to James Hook. Having lost a player so integral to the recent upsurge in form, the pressure is all on one who for all his undoubted talent, has never made the number ten shirt his own.

As part of a rather unconventional half-back pairing with Morgan Parra continues, Dimitri Yachvilli still continues to dictate the tempo for France. However their Le Petit Generale has been an injury doubt all week, and question marks over his fitness will linger on Saturday.

Head-to-Head: The Back Rows

The battle at the breakdown will be as key as ever. Sam Warburton and Thierry Dusatoir are two of the best scavengers when it comes to the dark art of slowing or turning over ball. Both captains tend to set the tone for their respective sides, by leading by example.

Last fixture: France 28 Wales 9, Stade de France 19th March 2011

Weather Forecast: Cloudy, with the potentially showers.


It’s very difficult not to get carried away with the current success of this Wales team. However even the most pessimistic Welsh supporter would have to admit the current belief that Wales can make it to their first ever World Cup final, is built on something real. While I think France will rise to the occasion and make it as hard as possible, if ever there was a Wales team with the ability to write some of their own history, then this is it. Wales by 2 points.

by Paul French

19 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: Wales v France

  1. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We weren’t warned. Wales were supposed to lose gallantly to a rampant Australia in the QFs, as usual, and we were meant to reflect on “things to build on”, while being secretly quite chuffed that we hadn’t made tits of ourselves.

    I simply can’t withstand the “emotional rollercoaster” that so many Welsh fans seem to relish. There is no way I could conceivably allow myself to believe that Wales will win tomorrow, even though – let’s be honest – we’re favourites. France will have to be at least twice as good as they’ve been at any time this year, just to get near us… and yet it would be psychological suicide not to assume that that is exactly what will happen.

    1. Rob,

      It means that much to me too… Logic says Welsh win, Heart says ‘shut up’ and ‘stop thinking about it or you’ll start mumbling again’. God bless my forgiving wife, I am incapable of anything but sitting at my Mac, drinking beer and going for ‘calm down’ runs that end in me pretending I’m on the shoulder of George screaming at the 5m line. I normally get fatter not faster when a tournament is on!

  2. Your lads are in fantastic form and should be believing in themselves to lift the trophy. Wales have had enough close loses in recent years – time for a close win! I am picking them to be in the final and if they are holding the Webb Ellis trophy at the end of it I will be cheering for them even if it is at the expense of my beloved ABs.

    Watching ABs vs Wales at Millenium Stadium and just being in Caerdydd in general was probably the best rugby atmosphere I have been in so I hope us Kiwis can play good hosts to the Welsh fans in what may be the biggest Welsh achievement in rugby ever.

    1. to tana…yes we are not bad hosts especially with the rugby ,glad you have good memories . that’s what it is all about ! Thanks for your support !
      I was glad to see an article about a few of the welsh team still being farmers away from the game ,it must be something about sheep and rugby nz and wales., OLD SCHOOL TRAINING….good luck sunday !
      And before the rest of you get on the jokes…we s….g them you eat them !! lol

  3. Although form is with Wales so is all the pressure! Big question is can they handle it?

    I would love to see Wales reach their first final and beat the French in doing so. however, I think that the Froggies are going to win this one. They’ve exocised their Tongan ghosts against England and have their tails up which is never a good thing if your playing against them. If they score first like they did against us I can’t see Wales coming back. Should be a terrific game and hope the Taffs prove me wrong!

  4. As a neutral, I’m looking forward to this match. It’s going to be a great show piece for the game. I’m favouring Wales tomorrow, because they’ve displayed so much character throughout the tournament and play a magnificent game on the pitch.

    I love visiting millennium stadium for the autumn internationals and have had many a beer with philosophical Welshmen, waiting for their time to come again. If the welsh bring the world cup home, it would be no bad thing.

    1. “If the Welsh bring the world cup home, it would be no bad thing.”

      Unless, of course, you are English with Welsh friends. In which case you will never hear the end of it

      i am still regularly reminded of their Grand Slam in 2008…

      1. Yes there is that!

        But then when they proudly state that they’ve won the world cup, as an englishman you can say, ‘hasn’t everyone?’

      2. Yes, and I’ll be banging on about it forever and a day, whichever blog you’re on…

        I’m too terrified to consider the prospect of winning this.

  5. The thing that worries me for wales is that the frogs are universally not given a hope in hell of winning this match.

    they will like this underdog mantle!

    1. I like it!

      I’d love to see Wales win this now but I am dreading the many smug phone calls and text messages….

      God, I can already imagine the smugness

  6. I can only repeat the text sent to me last Saturday by a Welsh friend of mine between the two games after I told him I was nervous – “Funny that. I’m now feeling quite chilled”. Boot is now firmly on the other foot!

    Don’t get me wrong – I’d rather be feeling nervous about a semi final with the Welsh, but in the absense of a team capable of getting that far, I can sit back and enjoy it!

  7. This is too close to call but I am hoping that the Wesh levels of fitness will see them through, the French were struggling against England for the last 20 mins & I believe if Wales are within 7 points with 20 mins to go they will come out on top.
    Don’t know how I’ll sleep tonight….my fingernails are bitten up to the elbow already !!

  8. I work at the millenium stadium and of course being a welshman, after beating ireland, i was looking forward to watching the game with my fellow patriots, however the stadium manager ( Gerry Toms) had other ideas and decided to have the game shown on a huge screen in the centre of the pitch ( just a note the pitch isnt there atm so if you were hoping so your out of luck, just concrete), so ive got to work :-(. I can see it now in twenty years time siiting in my armchair and someone will say say ” oh butt, memba when we won the world cup, it was bloody brilliant mun” and i will say no, i was in work. So shed a tear for me my fellow welshman, and COME ON WALES!!!!!!!!

  9. Hi everybody from France.
    Yes, Wales was better and beautiful. Even me I wanted kick the ass of my team…Really
    I see lot of criticise bout the referee decision.
    During the competition, several players had red card, even one french player, named estebanez, against Tonga and it’s was too hard decision ( see the difference between Warburton and Estebanez, see video)
    I’m not stonnish about commentary about french. For examples, François Pienaar a a South African, who stolen the victory in 1995 against french team..( the Benazi try was refused against south Africa) tell that we are the worst team of the competition.
    So, the newspaper , the TV, the world are english language….It’s always fight against the latin world in fact…against us.

    1. hello marc.
      From a very disappointed but proud welsh man
      Congratulations ! you are there ! again ! your record speaks for itself,you do not get that far in the world cup so often and not be a great rugby nation !
      Every one is banging on about nz deserving it this time but nobody has a divine right to win it ,with all your disappointments over the years maybe its your time … it seems that the luck is with you,especially after watching through my fingers this morning…bloody woodwork.
      About the game ,the referee was technically correct in my humble opinion but the punishment was harsh and spoilt what could have been a fantastic contest…in saying that we still had chances to win and did not take them…. who knows what would have happened !
      i think the loss of adam jones was significant and the french scrum looked very strong…i think your boys just do enough and if asked may well have stepped up a gear……. we will benefit from the experience and comeback stronger……allez les bleu…… ps …come on the blacks…no aussies please !

  10. Still can’t believe that in this day and age one man can spoil such a magnificent competition by choosing to ignore the tools available to him to make sure he is making the right decision. Gutted. How much damage to the credibility of the sport did that decision do? More thoughts…

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