Source: INPHO

Who need Backs? Wales versus France

  • +1

Starters (For your main course, please scroll down the menu)

This was Wales’ second chance to test themselves against one of the big beasts, and a fourth time Ioan Cunningham could refine his squad selection.

He restored his captain to the No 8 slot and reintroduced Beth Lewis at open-side. Leaving Sioned Harries on the bench and giving the youngster Sisilia Tuipulotu a deserved break meant a worrying loss of power and weight up front. It was to prove costly.

Main Course

For the first 40 minutes the French pack ruled the roost, and Laure Sansus did all the crowing.
Wales had no answer to the French shove; Sansus made hay.

She had the first of her two tries after magical off-loads by Jessy Trémoulière and Gabrielle Vernier. Wales, like Italy, have huge problems clearing their line. Here three forwards drove ahead, only for the ball to be lost still in deep defence.

On her return from injury Caroline Boujard competed successfully in the air with Jasmine Joyce to reclaim a cross-kick. The TMO agreed she had done it fairly.

Over a quarter of the game completed, and the French half was still uncharted territory to Wales.
Now France produced one of the tries of the series, and as so often, it came from a kick ahead by the opposition. Chloé Jacquet claimed it a few inches from the right touch-line and she was off. More magical interplay involving Sansus saw Jacquet step and run in from a distance. A quite wonderful score.

But it marked the end of Trémoulière’s great run of conversions: her first miss of the series.

France’s bonus point came from their set-scrum pressure; the ball cannoned off Siwan Lillicrap’s foot into the open, and Sansus was over for her second before anyone knew what had happened.

Half-time 0-26

There had been quite a lot of so-called handbags off the ball. Several belonged to the Welsh who were frustrated by their inability to create quick ball. The petulance was an unpleasant feature of the game. Cogger-Orr did a lot of talking, but it raises once more the question of linguistic fairness. Each time she had to use Agathe Sochat or the captain as her translator, and her explanations weren’t always the simplest.

The second-half continued the French domination, but as against Scotland it didn’t develop into the free scoring the management must have asked for.

Trémoulière did run over the line, easy as you please, as the Welsh suffered a series of penalties and talkings-to from Cogger-Orr.

To their credit they had the last word. As they attacked, it was the turn of les Bleues to concede penalties. The clock had already turned red when Harries, beneath a pile of bodies, somehow managed to twist her body over and place the ball down.

It was all too late, but at least the margin of defeat was much less than in recent contests.

Result: Wales 5 France 33

Player of the Match Laure Sansus


Wales: 15 Kayleigh Powell, 14 Lisa Neumann, 13 Hannah Jones 12 Robyn Wilkins, 11 Jasmine Joyce, 10 Elinor Snowsill, 9 Keira Bevan, 1 Gwenllian Pyrs, 2 Carys Phillips, 3 Cerys Hale, 4 Natalia John, 5 Gwen Crabb, 6 Alisha Butchers, 7 Bethan Lewis, 8 Siwan Lillicrap (captain)

Bench: 16 Kelsey Jones, 17 Cara Hope, 18 Donna Rose, 19 Alex Callender, 20 Sioned Harries, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Kerin Lake, 23 Niamh Terry

France: 15 Chloé Jacquet, 14 Caroline Boujard, 13 Maelle Filopon, 12 Gabrielle Vernier, 11 Marine Ménager, 10 Jessy Trémoulière, 9 Laure Sansus, 1 Annaelle Deshayes, 2 Agathe Sochat, 3 Clara Joyeux, 4 Céline Ferer, 5 Madoussou Fall, 6 Julie Annery, 7 Gaelle Hermet (captain), 8 Romane Ménager

Bench: 16 Laure Touyé, 17 Coco Lindelauf, 18 Assia Khalfaoui, 19 Audrey Forlani, 20 Emeline Gros, 21 Alexandre Chambon, 22 Morgane Peyronnet, 23 Emilie Boulard

Referee: Maggie Cogger-Orr (NZR)

ARs: Joy Neville (IRFU) and Maria Beatrice Benvenuti (FIR) TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)
with thanks to rugby


8pm is an interesting kick-off time for attracting the younger generation.

There are recurrent weaknesses in the Welsh game-management that really must be put right.

First, the exit strategy. The standard of kicking from hand simply isn’t good enough. Elinor Snowsill even kicked a penalty dead.

Far too many possessions see the first receiver take the ball standing still, and that is not just the forwards. No wonder two gifted wingers saw so little of the ball.

Clearing the breakdown: the ball was all too rarely well presented and Keira Bevan took her time moving the ball away. The midfield players hardly ever crossed the gain-line with the ball safe in their hands.

The French made more handling errors than they would have liked, but they had so much possession and thrilled spectators with their first-half skills.

That makes a total of 7 points they have score in 80 (second-half) minutes against Scotland and Wales.

The ground authorities cunningly placed spectators in the north stand for the cameras to gaze at, but it left the main stand largely empty.