Many punters will be backing France to win their fourth Six Nations game on the trot on Friday night when the favourites take on Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff – kick off at 20.00.
What a match it promises to be as Wales, who won the 2021 tournament, aim to build on the improvement showed at Twickenham, although ultimately, they lost to England by 23-19.
France, so far by miles the best side in the competition having already beaten Italy, Ireland and Scotland, are full of confidence, so you can expect them to add to the 12 tries they’ve scored.
Wales have brought in flanker Josh Navidi into their squad which is a big boost, and if the Cardiff and British and Irish Lions forward is selected by coach Wayne Pivac, the Welsh will probably be much more forceful in the battle against France’s back row – Frederick Gros, Anthony Jelonch and Gregory Alldritt.
Since 2000 when the Five Nations added Italy, France have won in Cardiff in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and in 2020 by 27-23.
In fact, as both countries prepare for such an important game, France enjoy the better recent record, having beaten Wales in their last three meetings – twice in the Six Nations and once in a warm-up game for the Autumn Nations Cup in October 2020.
There’s so much to look forward to: the contest between the respective half backs..Wales’ Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar, the skipper, and for France Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.
And then in the forwards, watch out for the ball winning skills of the French second row Cameron Woki who’ll be challenged by Adam Beard.
So, the French are two games away from winning a Championship and potentially a Grand Slam for the first time since 2010.Common sense tells you that France will achieve that goal, but with thousands of patriotic Welshmen singing and shouting their team on, the competition will be fierce, and it could well be that France in the end just win by a few points.
Shaun Edwards returns to the scene of his triumphs
In the build-up you can expect to hear a lot about Shaun Edwards going back to Cardiff where he achieved so much with Wales in his 11 years as the side’s defence coach.
Edwards won three Grand Slams and considering the huge impact he’s had on the French national side – their defence is rock solid in the pack and in mid-field – it could be safe to put money on the former Wigan rugby league star becoming the first coach to win a Grand Slam with more than one country.
Now able to put his ideas across in French, Edwards has transformed his adopted country’s rugby team and has added steel to the natural flair and sense of adventure with which France play.
When you take into account the number of internationals played between Wales and France – 101 – the Welsh are just in front – winning 51 to 47.
Sport is full of surprises, and while you expect Wales to be highly competitive at home and there’s always the possibility that France will be prevented from reaching the high standards seen against Italy, Ireland and Scotland, current form strongly indicates that the French will be victorious again.