It was rude not to buy myself a ticket for the Friday night game between Wales and France, I’d enjoyed being back in Cardiff to watch the All Blacks so much in the Autumn. I’d paid £75 for that ticket, a seat in the No Alcohol section for this one set me back £100. I can’t sing the praises of the absence of alcohol loudly enough. (The 2 debenture holders who’d moved for this match agreed with me) I got to stay seated for the duration of the match and didn’t miss a thing, with people going off to buy more beer etc. A vast improvement to a standard international experience. There’d been a lot of disquiet about the price of tickets and many empty seats were expected, I’d have to say there didn’t seem to be that the French fans were there in some numbers. They were great value, singing loud and proud for their team. It wasn’t great to hear piped singing as play was going on. In chatting to a Wales fan the next morning he made a great suggestion. Why not give free tickets to a few male voice choirs and get them to kick start singing by the home fans, seems a much better plan than piped singing.
In spite of a slim 9% of Welsh DNA, according to my Ancestry test, watching Wales play in Cardiff is one of my favourite rugby things to do, I can claim a Wales mad Uncle who gave me a love for Welsh rugby alongside growing up watching the great Wales team of the 70’s. That generally means I’m supporting Wales in Cardiff whoever the opposition are. I found myself torn for this one though. Having been at the match in Paris in 2020 when France beat England in some style I’ve been hoping they win the trophies they deserve. I was probably in the frame of mind where I’d cheer anything good.
As it went this wasn’t a match with lots of running rugby, in spite of that it really was a cracker! Melvyn Jaminet and Dan Biggar exchanged penalties in the opening 5 minutes, before a poor Welsh kick out of their own half saw a French overlap turn into a French try as Anthony Jelonch ran in to score the first and ultimately only try of the match. I’m sure most of the Welsh fans thought that might be the flood gates opening but the Welsh Forwards had other plans.
A further 2 penalties for Dan Biggar saw the teams go in at half-time with the score on Wales 9 France 10.
Without their talismanic captain and second Alun Wyn Jones they Welsh Forwards pretty much shut down the French game plan for the duration of the match. Dan Biggar picked as captain again had as good a game as I’ve seen him play, he put one dream of a pass over 2 heads to Taulupe Faletau out in the right wing. I do hope the commentators were waxing lyrical over that, they certainly would have been had Finn Russell or Marcus Smith been involved.
Wales best opportunity of a try involved Biggar and Faletau out on the left wing, this time it was a cross kick into the Number 8’s hands, the experienced Jonathan Davies was running in to take the ball and would have been in for a certain try. 99 times out of 100 he’d have caught the ball and scored what would have been a winning try, this time the ball went awry and the chance was gone. While I’m mentioning Faletua, again, he really should have received the Man of the Match plaudit, BT have given that accolade to a player on the losing team once this season, it’s time that happened more often!
Jaminet had added another 3 points and in spite of considerable pressure from Wales France had the victory that sees them aiming to win a Grand Slam in Paris in the final game of this 6 Nations. The final score was Wales 9 France 13. This one was an absolute arm wrestle and a lot of credit must go to the man Wales allowed to get away, Shaun Edwards, this French team wouldn’t have won a game like this before his influence. Unusually in this competition all 3 away teams won, that fact means that many Irish fans will be shouting for England in Paris next Saturday. Can I confess I’ll be shouting for France?