Six Nations 2016: Cardiff atmosphere could inspire France

Jonathan Davies meets Warren Gatland
Six Nations: Wales v France
Date: Friday, 26 February Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

France could thrive on the atmosphere of the Millennium Stadium in Friday's Six Nations match, says Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde.

Guy Noves' team are unbeaten after home wins over Italy and Ireland.

They are a point ahead of Wales, who beat Scotland 27-23 after a 16-16 draw in Ireland, with McBryde warning the Cardiff crowd could inspire both teams.

"We thrive on the atmosphere but it's a double-edged sword because sometimes the opponents thrive as well," he said.

"If you speak to any rugby player, everybody enjoys playing in the Principality Stadium and the atmosphere plays a huge part in that.

Warren Gatland watches the Wales team doing press-ups during a training session at the Millennium Stadium
Wales have won only one Friday night game in the Six Nations

"Certainly it adds to the occasion and a lot of the French players will be used to playing in noisy atmospheres like this if you listen to the crowds they have in the Top 14."

Wales have won their last four meetings with France, including a 27-6 win on a Friday night in 2014.

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Roof closed

With rain forecast in Cardiff on Friday, the stadium roof will be closed - something which has been credited with creating an even noisier atmosphere.

It was claimed that the intimidating and noisy crowd was a major factor when Wales beat England 30-3 in the 2013 tournament.

But England turned the tables in 2015, winning 21-16 in Cardiff on a Friday night - with the roof open.

Liam Williams
Liam Williams training with Wales in Cardiff on Thursday

"It's our stadium and if we can create an atmosphere to make it that little bit harder for them then all the better," added McBryde.

No late problems for Wales

Former Scarlets hooker McBryde said the Wales squad selected to face France has a clean bill of health.

The team trained on the Millennium Stadium pitch on Thursday morning, with full-back Liam Williams wearing a scrum cap to protect a cut on his head.

McBryde said that competition for places affected every Wales back-row player, apart from number eight Taulupe Faletau.

Ospreys open side Justin Tipuric has dropped to the bench after starting against Ireland and Scotland, with captain Sam Warburton switching to number seven and Dan Lydiate returning at blind-side.

"Everybody's got to be at their best because they know that competition is there," said McBryde.

"It will be a close-run thing selection-wise for a number of years.

"Toby Faletau's a little bit further ahead at number eight, but definitely for the rest of the back-rowers it's a hugely competitive area and fortunately the national team has benefitted from it.

"If Sam Warburton wasn't playing at his best, he would be the first to knock on the coach's door and say 'look, I'm not playing well enough'."

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