Preview: Wales vs. France – prediction, team news, lineups

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Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Six Nations clash between Wales and France, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The final match of round four in the 2024 Six Nations Championship will see France heading to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to take on Wales on Sunday afternoon.

Dating back to their first-ever meeting in 1908, these two proud rugby nations have competed in 103 Test matches, with Wales claiming victory in 51 encounters and France in 49, while three games ended level.


Match preview

© Reuters

While the all-time record in this fixture favours Wales, it was France that demonstrated their dominance in recent history with a commanding 41-28 victory over the Welsh in the 2023 tournament, securing five tries in the process.

However, in this season’s competition, the notable surprise has been the rather lackluster performances from Les Bleus, as their usual dynamic style of play has largely been absent, and it could be argued that their six points so far have been somewhat fortunate.

Indeed, Fabien Galthie‘s side could very easily have suffered three defeats so far, having been convincingly beaten by Ireland and requiring a controversial last-minute TMO decision to secure a narrow victory over Scotland.

In addition, just two weeks ago, they narrowly avoided what would have been a stunning upset against Italy, but they were let off the hook as Paolo Garbisi‘s last-minute penalty struck the post, resulting in a 13-13 draw.

The pressure is squarely on the visitors here, and while winning the title is completely out of their control now, back-to-back victories in their final two games feel like a must to restore some pride and keep their hopes of a second-place finish alive.

Wales captain Jac Morgan pictured in September 2023© Reuters

Meanwhile, Warren Gatland‘s team nearly staged an incredible comeback over the opening weekend, falling agonisingly short with a narrow 27-26 defeat to Scotland, followed by a close 16-14 loss to England at Twickenham a week later.

Following those commendable displays that ended in defeat, Wales faced total domination by the mighty Ireland a fortnight ago and could very easily encounter similar challenges against France.

Chief among those challenges was their vulnerability at scrum time, where they were consistently overpowered by Ireland, causing them to lose discipline, which resulted in the team conceding numerous penalties and giving up points cheaply.

In last year’s Six Nations, Wales managed just one win, beating Italy, who they will face in their final match of the competition next week here in Cardiff, which could ultimately decide which team will end up with this year’s wooden spoon.

However, this encounter with France presents a chance for the Dragons to cause an upset. With the pressure primarily on Galthie’s side, if Gatland’s team can generate some early momentum, they might secure a result that alleviates pressure heading into the final week.

Wales Six Nations form:

Wales form (all competitions):

France Six Nations form:

France form (all competitions):


Team News

France's Imanol Harinordoquy scores a try against Ireland© Reuters

After suffering three consecutive defeats, leaving them just ahead of Italy on points difference, Gatland has implemented several intriguing changes for this match, with Nick Tompkins and George North both left out and replaced by Owen Watkin and Joe Roberts.

In the back three, there are no changes, but in the pack, captain Dafydd Jenkins moves from lock to blindside flanker, taking over from Alex Mann to partner with Tommy Reffell and Aaron Wainwright in the loose trio.

Galthie, on the other hand, has sent six players back to their clubs ahead of this match and will also be missing key men Jonathan Danty, who is suspended, and Matthieu Jalibert, who sustained an injury during the match against Italy.

The players that have been released include forwards Dany Priso, Posolo Tuilagi and Cameron Woki, as well as backs Pierre-Louis Barassi, Emilien Gailleton and Antoine Hastoy.

Louis Bielle-Biarrey is poised to reclaim his spot in the starting 15, replacing Matthis Lebel, who was a late call-up against Scotland, and will partner Damian Penaud on the wing. Additionally, Galthie is expected to award a starting debut to Stade Francais standout Leo Barre in the 15 jersey.

Wales starting lineup: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Alex Mann, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Mason Grady

France starting lineup: 15 Leo Barre, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Nicolas Depoortere, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Nolann Le Garrc, 8 Gregory Alldritt (c), 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Georges-Henri Colombe, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Yoram Moefana


SM words green background

We say: Wales 17-14 France

Wales will enter this match with confidence, fueled by the support of their home crowd, and the adjustments in the starting lineup may propel them to elevate their performance. France undoubtedly deserve to be respected, but their performances in this year’s competition have been well below what we have come to expect from them. This should be an incredible battle but we are backing the Dragons to pull off a slender victory on their home patch.

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