Six Nations: Scrum V Classics - Wales v France 1994

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Remembering Wales v France 1994

Wales 24-15 France (1994)

Last week on Scrum V, we learned all about Wales' rigorous diet and fitness regime. In 1994, things were a little different - the half-time snack was an orange and a cup of sweet warm tea. But it was enough to power Scott Quinnell and his colleagues to a famous victory.

France had travelled to Cardiff to face a resurgent Wales side, basking in the glory of victories over Scotland and Ireland. But Les Bleus represented a much sterner test. Wales had not beaten them for 12 years, and Scott Quinnell spoke fearfully of the "carnage" the French back row had left across Europe the previous season.

Quinnell's international debut in the autumn had been one to forget. In what was one of the lowest points in Welsh rugby history, Wales lost to Canada in Cardiff. Luckily for Quinnell he remembered nothing of it, having "punched myself in the face" and "knocked myself out".

It was an inauspicious start to what would become a stellar international career, and the France game in '94 was the stage on which he announced his talent to the world.

The barnstorming back rower was involved in everything that day. His power and dynamism proved too much for the French to handle, and it was no surprise when he poached a line-out ball from 40 yards out, and smashed his way through a succession of flailing French tackles on his way to the try line.

"The biggest thing I remember as a 21 year old was turning around and being hit by a wall of red. Moony and everyone hit me harder than the French"

With Neil Jenkins hitting penalties from all over the pitch with trademark robotic precision, Wales built themselves a seemingly unassailable 17-3 lead. In the face of a big deficit, French teams usually do one of two things: shrug, roll over and give up, or throw caution to the wind.

On this occasion, they chose the latter and conjured two tries - one through brute force, another through the artistry of the backs - that almost brought them back to level pegging.

But the final word rested with Wales. With France chasing the winning score, debutant winger Emile N'Tamack fumbled the ball, and who was there to scoop it up? Scott Quinnell. His deft inside pass put Nigel Walker in space, and nobody was going to catch the former Olympic sprint hurdler.

The match was won, and Quinnell was deservedly named man of the match.

A fortnight later, Wales travelled to Twickenham in search of a Grand Slam. It proved a match too far, but they'd done enough to claim their first Championship for 15 years. Celebrations, understandably, were muted. Holding a trophy aloft after a defeat on the pitch is bound to leave an empty feeling.

Wales are in an almost identical situation this Saturday. Barring total disaster, the championship is already sewn up. But that will be no consolation to anyone if they fall at the final hurdle.

And no Welsh fan needs reminding that it was France who knocked Wales out of the World Cup. There are some demons that need laying to rest.

Watch Scrum V Classics - Wales v France 1994 on Wednesday, 14 March, BBC Two Wales at 1900 GMT

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