My daughter’s lived in Paris for over 10 years now and somehow there’s often a rugby match on when I visit. The first year she was there I went to the Top 14 Final on my own, that was 2013 and I saw Castres beat Toulon, In 2014 I went on my own again to watch England play, Gael Fickou broke En glib hearts as he scored a last minute try for France to win by 2 points. 2015 saw Alex (my daughter) come along to watch Scotland, who lost, but put up a good fight. She’d been with me to watch Australia in the Autumn and so that tradition started. In 2016 we saw England win with the match (by 10 points) and the Grand Slam – That, was a great evening, an England team led by Dylan Hartley it was a team worth watching.

In 2017 we were at the 100 minute Welsh game, won controversially by France, Alex started out supporting her new home country, but not loving the booing, she soon switched! We actually left before the end as we had a date with a TV and a bar for Ireland v England. I watched England v France at Twickenham in 2019, timing my trip to Paris a week later than usual, but things were back to normal, for a while in 2020 when Alex and I saw the brand new France beat England playing some wonderful rugby. Covid obviously meant 2022 wasn’t possible and France didn’t win the 6 Nations Championship until 2022 and luckily we were there to see them lift the trophy. I* confess to being very happy for them, in spite of England being the team they beat that day!

A win for England in 2016 on their way to a Grand Slam

Super Saturday generally coincides with my birthday on March 17th and this year was no different. The rugby weekend was lined up with the most likely Championship winners, Ireland playing the final game and France playing my ‘second’ team, Wales. France had thrashed England the week before scoring 53 exciting points too England’s poor 10. I was torn between wanting Wales to do well and France showing. their brilliance. We got a bit of both happily.

At last they deserved Slam for France!

Although my DNA results show 9% Welsh blood that really isn’t enough to explain my love of Welsh rugby, a Welsh Uncle and watching the Welsh teams with the likes of Barry John, JPR Williams, Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies might though. I was at the Principality for both of Wales home matches and had been waiting to see Saracens Nick Tompkins play, up he popped in Paris. I’d like to think he was a factor in what I think was the best Welsh performance this tournament.

We were treated to 9 tries in this game, unlike the England game the week before they were spread between the 2 teams with Wales getting on the board first through a run in by George North after his forwards had battered the French line and been awarded several penalties. Dan Biggar converted the try.

The Wales try was on 7 minutes but France hit back quickly with one of their speedsters Damien Penaud flying in to score. Thomas Ramos who maintained his 100% kicking record for the tournament added the extras.

France were fairly conservative, with 2 Ramos penalties adding to their score, Jonathan Danny, a player I haven’t seen live before showed his skill and pace on 33 minutes to score over on the right wing. I’m quite surprised to see that the La Rochelle player is 30, perhaps his move to the seaside in 2021 has improved his game, but he’s been hugely influential in this years tournament.

That wa sit as far as the scoring was concerned in the first half, the teams went in on France 20 Wales 7. The score in the second half was a creditable (for Wales) 21 apiece. Uini Atonia opened the scoring for France in the second half, a big man he must be incredibly hard to stop!

Gael Fickou has been scoring tries for France since that try against England in 2014, he scored his 14th international try on 48 minutes in this match, another hugely influential player, France have some Centres pairing!

It looked like France might run away with the game at that point as they now had 34 points to Wales’ 7, but Bradley Roberts who’d replaced captain Ken Owens 4 minutes into the half scored for Wales on 55 minutes, with Biggar adding the 2.

Tomos Williams, a 54th minute replacement was next to get his name on the score sheet, scoring great try, he dived over the line, Biggar’s kick took Wales to within 9.

Damien Penaud scored his 26th try for France and the second of the game on 76 minutes, a prolific scorer, he’s the son of Alain Penaud who played for my team Saracens amongst others.

Wales young Winger Rio Dyer had the last word with a try on 79 minutes, Leigh Halfpenny was on the pitch and he added the extras, the final score was France 41 Wales 28, plenty for Wales to take in their final game of this years’ 6 Nations. Ireland went on to beat England in the final game to win a deserved Grand Slam. Both France and Ireland will be fancied in this years’ World Cup.

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