Preview: France v Wales

What a game we have in store to raise the curtain on the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

What a game we have in store to raise the curtain on the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

France versus Wales, the Stade de France, so much history and two teams who have provided some of the best ever moments in Rugby’s Greatest Championship.

Friday night will see two teams attempt to get their campaigns off on the right footing, with momentum so key in building a Championship title bid.

France v Wales, 2019 Guinness Six Nations, Stade de France, 8pm GMT

France, with another year under their belts under the tutelage of head coach Jacques Brunel, are seeking a first title since 2010 while Wales have triumphed more recently – in 2013 – with both equally hungry for more silverware.

The teams were announced this week and the headline news surrounding France is the inclusion of 19-year-old Romain Ntamack at centre, where he plays alongside the explosive Wesley Fofana.

Click here for the complete 2019 Guinness Six Nations fixture list

Experienced Championship campaigners Maxime Médard and Yoann Huget are in the back three, while Camille Lopez teams up with Morgan Parra in the half-backs.

Guilhem Guirado leads the team from hooker and just behind him is another debutant – Montpellier’s Paul Willemse starts at lock.

There has been plenty of excitement around the Wales 23 for Friday night’s game also, with the mercurial Gareth Anscombe continuing at fly-half and joined in the half-backs by Tomos Williams, who debuts in the Championship.

Liam Williams is included at full-back and Ross Moriarty has won his fitness battle to start at No.8.

Jacques Brunel (France head coach): “Everyone recognises the quality of the kid (Ntamack). We’ve been expecting him for a while. He’s shown since the start of the season that he can adapt to the level he is faced with. He still has another step to take but we don’t doubt that he can overcome that obstacle.”

Warren Gatland (Wales head coach): “We are looking forward to kicking off the Guinness Six Nations and kicking off our 2019 campaign as a whole. We come into the game on an impressive run of results but we know how tough it will be to face France in Paris in the tournament opener.”

HEAD TO HEAD – The midfield battle

The midfield battle at the Stade de France on Friday promises to be explosive, with Fofana and Ntamack going up against a supremely solid duo – Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes.

At the age of 30 Davies is one of the most complete centres around and was voted British & Irish Lions Player of the Series in New Zealand in 2017, while Parkes also has the full skillset and always seems one step ahead.

Up against them, Fofana is one of the classiest midfielders in the world game while Ntamack – who initially came through the ranks as a fly-half – is a box of tricks. Both men have been tearing up the French Top 14 this season and the compelling battle against their Welsh counterparts is worth the price of admission alone.



If you’re looking for some excellent Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby options before Friday’s kick-off then Wales offer excellent value.

Ken Owens, powerful ball-carrier that he is, is more cost-effective than all of Stuart McInally, Rory Best, Guilhem Guirado and Jamie George and is a good option in the forwards.

But perhaps the best of all to back looks to be fly-half Anscombe. There are six No.10s more expensive than Anscombe in Fantasy Rugby and yet he is possessor of a scintillating attacking game and also able to cover full-back.

For Les Bleus our pick is Jefferson Poirot, who is an absolute must-have at 9.0 stars.

The 26-year-old has been a starter in 21 of his 22 international appearances – including all five games at last year’s Championship – and the Bordeaux-Bègles man is a favourite of Les Bleus coach Jacques Brunel, as well as being one of the cheapest players in the game.


France: 15. Maxime Medard (Stade Toulousain), 14. Damian Penaud (ASM Clermont Auvergne), 13. Wesley Fofana (ASM Clermont Auvergne), 12. Romain Ntamack (Stade Toulousain), 11. Yoann Huget (Stade Toulousain), 10. Camille Lopez (ASM Clermont Auvergne), 9. Morgan Parra (ASM Clermont Auvergne), 1. Jefferson Poirot (Union Bordeaux-Bègles), 2. Guilhem Guirado (RC Toulon) (c), 3. Uini Antonio (Stade Rochelais), 4. Sébastien Vahaamahina (ASM Clermont Auvergne), 5. Paul Willemse (Montpellier), 6. Wenceslas Lauret (Racing 92), 7. Arthur Iturria (ASM Clermont Auvergne), 8. Louis Picamoles (Montpellier)

Replacements: 16. Julien Marchand (Stade Toulousain), 17. Dany Priso (Stade Rochelais), 18. Demba Bamba (CA Brive), 19. Félix Lambey (Lyon OU), 20. Grégory Alldritt (Stade Rochelais), 21. Baptiste Serin (Union Bordeaux-Bègles), 22. Gaël Fickou (Stade Français), 23. Geoffrey Doumayrou (Stade Rochelais)

Wales: 15. Liam Williams (Saracens), 14. George North (Ospreys), 13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), 12. Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), 11. Josh Adams (Worcester Warriors), 10. Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), 9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues), 1. Rob Evans (Scarlets), 2. Ken Owens (Scarlets), 3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), 4. Adam Beard (Ospreys), 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (c), 6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), 7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), 8. Ross Moriarty (Dragons)

Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee (Dragons), 17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets), 18. Samson Lee (Scarlets), 19. Cory Hill (Dragons), 20. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), 21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets), 22. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints), 23. Owen Watkin (Ospreys)