Five classics: France v Wales

France’s Brice Dulin celebrates after scoring a try 20/3/2021
As we head into the final round of the Guinness Six Nations, title hopefuls France host fifth-placed Wales in Paris.

As we head into the final round of the Guinness Six Nations, title hopefuls France host fifth-placed Wales in Paris.

France, who have won three of their opening four games, have won each of their last three Championship matches against the visitors and they will be looking to repeat that feat again this year.

France know only a bonus-point win will do, as they look to put pressure on Grand Slam-chasing Ireland in the late game.

Plenty of points are almost guaranteed and it well turn out to be a game that matches some of the best they have played down the years.

2001: France 35-43 Wales

In 2001, Wales won a high-scoring Parisian classic against all the odds.

The match belonged to Neil Jenkins who became the first ever rugby player to break the 1,000 international points mark.

Along the way to a 28-point haul, he completed the full house, scoring a try, four conversions, three penalties and two drop goals as he inspired a famous Wales win.

France raced ahead into a 10-point unanswered lead after Philippe Bernat-Salles’ early try, but Jenkins kept Wales within touching distance as they trailed 19-9.

Rob Howley’s 80m breakaway try closed the gap to just seven points before the break to completely change the complexion of the game.

Galvanised by the positive end to the first half, Wales came alive and a try from Dafydd James gave Graham Henry’s men a deserved 33-22 lead.

However, France were not out of the game themselves and a rare missed penalty from Jenkins spurred Les Bleus to turn around the deficit and push into a narrow 35-33 lead with just eight minutes on the clock.

Jenkins redeemed himself with a drop goal to give Wales a narrow one-point lead with just three minutes remaining.

The visiting fans were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief when Gareth Thomas charged down a kick and Jenkins ran on to the ball for a try to secure a famous win in a classic.

2007: France 32-21 Wales

Wales were going into this Round 3 game without a win while France were looking to keep their Grand Slam hopes on track.

France took the lead with a penalty, but Wales immediately hit back with two quick tries from Alix Popham and Tom Shanklin to put them 14-3 up, and French alarm bells were ringing.

It did not take long for France to slowly work their way back into the game, and a combination of David Skrela’s boot and tries from Christophe Dominici and Lionel Nallet took France into a commanding 29-14 lead.

Wales looked to mount a spirited comeback when Jamie Robinson cut through for a try and the conversion reduced the deficit to eight points.

However, it was to be a case of close but no cigar, as Wales left themselves with too much to do and a late penalty from Lionel Beauxis closed out the game.

2010: Wales 20-26 France

Going into the tournament as favourites, France edged out another cagey affair in Cardiff.

The French looked unstoppable in the first half and raced into a 20-0 lead by the break, when two costly Welsh interceptions led to tries for wing Alexis Palisson and fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc while Morgan Parra added 10 points from his boot.

Comeback kings Wales, who had scored 17 points in injury-time to beat Scotland two weeks prior, threatened another remarkable revival when Leigh Halfpenny’s converted try and two Stephen Jones penalties made the score 20-13 with just under 20 minutes to play.

Freddie Michalak’s penalty and another three points off Morgan Parra’s boot put France into a more comfortable 26-13 lead which was enough to cling on for the win despite Shane Williams’ try in the dying seconds.

2019: France 19-24 Wales

On a wet Friday night in Paris, Wales produced a historic fightback that sparked their third and final Grand Slam under Warren Gatland.

The hosts were an unstoppable force and came firing out of the blocks, going 16-0 up by the break with tries from Louis Picamoles and Yoann Huget.

However, a 15-minute purple patch sprung Wales into action with tries from scrum-half Tomos Williams and wing George North, both converted by Gareth Anscombe, and Dan Biggar’s penalty put Wales ahead.

After a Camille Lopez penalty put France back in front, George North came up big again by intercepting a wayward pass to run for a 60-metre try securing a famous win at the Stade de France.

Wales’ comeback from 16-0 was their biggest comeback in Guinness Six Nations history and it claimed a 10th successive win to equal their longest unbeaten run since 1999.

2021: France 32-30 Wales

Wales arrived for their final game in Paris with four victories knowing that a win against Les Bleus would be enough to secure a fourth Grand Slam title.

Having already secured the Triple Crown with victories over England, Scotland and Ireland, Wales were in pole position to seal another title, but France themselves could still win the title, making it a compelling watch.

A breath-taking first half saw the sides head in level at 17-17, with Romain Taofifenua and Antoine Dupont’s tries matched by Dan Biggar and Josh Navidi’s scores.

The second half was just as eventful, as France’s Willemse was red carded for sticking his fingers into the eye of Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones.

Although, the French would end the game with a man advantage after Welsh duo Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were both sin binned.

France capitalized on this, and although Wales held a ten-point lead with just three minutes to play, they were left reeling as first Charles Ollivon and then Brice Dulin ensured France were still alive and broke Welsh hearts at the death.