Alun Wyn Jones believes his side were as much to blame as anyone as Wales were denied a Grand Slam victory in the most dramatic of fashions in Paris, with Brice Dulin’s late try securing a 32-30 win for France.
Both teams came out with all guns blazing with the stakes as big as ever at Stade de France, as Romain Taofifénua and Dan Biggar exchanged early tries, before Antoine Dupont and Josh Navidi added a further try apiece in a frantic opening 20 minute period.
With the game on a knife edge, Biggar and Romain Ntamack continued to keep the scores ticking over from the kicking tee, before Josh Adams grabbed the fifth try of the game which looked to have secured the win, before a late double from Charles Ollivon and Dulin added a late twist at the death.
And after missing out in one of the most hair-raising Championship matches of all time, Jones said Wales – who finished with 13 men as Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were sin-binned – failed to keep their composure in the closing stages in Paris.
“We didn’t win the game, and that was the focus today,” the Wales skipper said.
“I thought we were pretty good for 80 minutes, but it’s all about those dying seconds.
“When you look back at it our ill-discipline probably brought a lot of pressure on, but credit to France and the way they played in the last 15 minutes.”
France wasted no time in getting down to business in their own back yard, with Taofifénua crashing over within the opening five minutes to give the hosts an early lead, before Biggar ran the perfect angle to break through the staunch French rearguard to level matters minutes later.
And there was no time to take a breath before Dulin chipped over the Welsh defence with aplomb, before the fullback fed Dupont, via the hands of Damien Penaud, to add a third try within the opening 13 minutes.
Navidi made it 14 points apiece minutes later to cap off a hectic start to proceedings, before the game finally started to settle down, with Biggar and Ntamack exchanging penalties to make it 17-17 at the break.
With both sides going all out for the victory, the action was just as relentless in the second stanza, even if the scoring wasn’t as frequent as the first, with Adams going over soon after the interval, before Paul Willemse saw red late on.
But the best was left for last in Paris, as Ollivon crossed to close the gap to just three points heading into the final five minutes, before Dulin went over with the clock in the red to break Welsh hearts in the most dramatic of endings.
And Wales skipper Jones was left to count the cost after such a devastating defeat, with the Championship set to be decided in next Friday’s clash between Les Bleus and Scotland, with France needing to win by 21 points to secure the title.
“We obviously knew what was at stake coming into it, it’s out of our hands now, and ultimately we invited that pressure on,” the lock said.
“We’re proud and privileged to get on with the tournament and get the Triple Crown, but hopefully we’ve made the people at home proud, but it’s out of our hands.”