Six Nations 2020: France v Wales preview, team news & key stats

Guinness Six Nations
Venue: Stade de France Date: Saturday, 20 March Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, online and BBC Sport app from 19:15 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 live; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Victory for Wales in Paris on Saturday would give them a record-extending fifth Grand Slam in the Six Nations.

Few would have predicted this after they won just three Tests in 2020 but Wayne Pivac's side have recorded four straight wins to lead the standings.

They have also equalled their record of 17 tries with a game to spare.

However, a France victory would take the fate of the championship down to their rearranged game with Scotland next Friday evening.

Wales will field a starting XV containing a total of 987 caps, with 14 of Pivac's line-up having enjoyed Grand Slam success under his predecessor Warren Gatland. The exceptions is wing Louis Rees-Zammit, who was just seven when Wales landed their first Gatland-coached Grand Slam in 2008.

Wales are led from the front by inspirational captain Alun Wyn Jones, who will make history if Wales topple Les Bleus as the first player to be part of four Six Nations Grand Slam-winning teams.

A Six Nations table showing: Wales P 4 W 4 D 0 L 0 PD 63 B 3 Pts 19; Ireland P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 PD 34 B 3 Pts 11; France P 3 W 2 D 0 L 1 PD 39 B 2 Pts 10; England P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 PD 5 B 2 Pts 10; Scotland P 3 W 1 D 0 L 2 PD 1 B 2 Pts 6; Italy P 4 W 0 D 0 L 4 PD -142 B 0 Pts 0
France and Scotland's round three fixture was postponed, leaving them with an extra game still to play

Team news

Wales have made one change to the side that thrashed Italy with second row Adam Beard replacing Cory Hill.

On the bench, hooker Nicky Smith, back row James Botham and scrum-half Tomos Williams, replace Rhys Carre, Aaron Wainwright and Lloyd Williams respectively.

France name the same XV that narrowly lost to England at Twickenham.

There are three changes on the bench as head coach Fabien Galthie switches from a 6-2 to 5-3 split between forwards and backs.

Commentator's notes

Eddie Butler: Effusive praise seems to be in short supply for the Wales team. The verdict on their exploits seems to be: lucky to be in contention.

They are base stock elevated by French referees and by Irish and Scottish red cards. If Wales have a quality it is doggedness.

France are the darlings of the tournoi. At the merest mention of Antoine Dupont, we swoon to order. Rolls Royce romance against the winners of the village tombola. Even in the defensive systems, Gethin Jenkins is the junior apprentice to Shaun Edwards.

France must win. Well, here goes: France 24 Wales 38.

Alun Wyn Jones

View from both camps

France head coach Fabien Galthie on picking Matthieu Jalibert ahead of Romain Ntamack: "We chose him for a simple reason, he was excellent against England.

"He was solid, he kicked perfectly and performed well in the way he managed the game against very tough opposition."

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac: "We are all looking forward to Saturday and to the finale of the Six Nations.

"We are four from four to date but know this weekend will be a great challenge against a very good French side, but we are looking forward to it.

"We know we need to step up from our previous performances and we want to end the tournament with a performance we know we are capable of."

Six Nations: We're lucky that 14 of team have won a Grand Slam - Wales boss Pivac

Line-ups

France: 15-Brice Dulin, 14-Damian Penaud, 13-Virimi Vakatawa, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Teddy Thomas, 10-Matthieu Jalibert, 9-Antoine Dupont; 1-Cyril Baille, 2-Julian Marchand, 3-Mohamed Haouas, 4-Romain Taofifenua, 5-Paul Willemse, 6-Dylan Cretin, 7-Charles Ollivon (capt), 8-Gregory Alldritt

Replacements: 16-Camille Chat, 17-Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18-Uini Atonio, 19-Swan Rebbadj, 20-Anthony Jelonch, 21-Baptiste Serin, 22-Romain Ntamack, 23-Arthur Vincent

Wales: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Louis Rees-Zammit, 13-George North, 12-Jonathan Davies, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Gareth Davies; 1-Wyn Jones, 2-Ken Owens, 3-Tomas Francis, 4-Adam Beard, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 6-Josh Navidi, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: 16-Elliot Dee, 17-Nicky Smith, 18-Leon Brown, 19-Cory Hill, 20-James Botham, 21-Tomos Williams, 22-Callum Sheedy, 23- Willis Halaholo.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac
He would join Mike Ruddock (2005) and Warren Gatland (2008, 2012 and 2019).

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • France have won only two of the last nine meetings in the Six Nations after winning nine of the previous 12
  • However, after eight defeats in nine to Wales in all comps, France won both encounters in 2020
  • Wales have won three of their last four Six Nations games in Paris, having won just two of the previous six

France

  • France last won the Six Nations title in 2010
  • They have won seven of their last nine Six Nations games
  • Les Bleus have scored the opening try in 16 of their past 19 Six Nations matches, including the last nine
  • Fabien Galthie's side have conceded fewer penalties per game (average of 8.7) than any other team so far

Wales

  • This is the 10th time Wales have played France hoping to complete a Grand Slam in the Five/Six Nations. They have won seven of the nine to date, but only one has been in Paris - back in 1971
  • Alun Wyn Jones could become the first player to win four Grand Slams in the Six Nations
  • Wales have averaged 175 successful tackles per game in this Six Nations, more than any other side
  • Louis Rees-Zammit is the joint top try-scorer so far (four, level with Anthony Watson).

Match officials

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

Touch judges: Matthew Carley (England) and Christophe Ridley (England)

TMO: Wayne Barnes (England)

England have most Grand Slams in the history of the tournament with 13, one more than Wales
England have most Grand Slams in the history of the tournament with 13, one more than Wales, but Wales have won the most since the start of the Six Nations in 2000 with the most recent of their four coming in 2019

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