Category Archive: France Rugby

France Rugby News

Mar 24

Picamoles: Time for France to increase self-belief

Following a rollercoaster 2017 RBS 6 Nations, France’s Louis Picamoles insists it is time for Les Bleus to recognise the quality in their ranks and increase their levels of self-belief.

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Mar 22

My Championship: Thomas Lièvremont

When I was young the Championship was a time to get together with the whole family.

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Mar 20

RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship Nominee Profile: Camille Lopez

At the conclusion of the 2017 RBS 6 Nations a total of 12 players have been shortlisted for the Player of the Championship award.

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Mar 20

RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship Nominee Profile: Louis Picamoles

At the conclusion of the 2017 RBS 6 Nations a total of 12 players have been shortlisted for the Player of the Championship award.

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Mar 20

But for one England try the Six Nations would have been a five-way tie | Andy Bull

It was a tournament to savour, with the standard of play and level of ferocity increasing, but unfortunately the Italians are being left behind

Come Monday morning the players will be back at work with their clubs, getting ready for the next round of league fixtures.

Their schedules leave them precious little time to heal their wounds, even less to rest and reflect on what has gone on these past few weeks. Rugby has never been an easy living but in this Six Nations some of the Tests, especially the three between England, Ireland and Wales, were so ferocious that watching them felt a guilty pleasure.

Related: New Zealand media on England loss: ‘Stuffed plastic bags in need of a trolley’

Related: Emerald flytrap shuts on England once again in Six Nations | Robert Kitson

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Mar 19

Gourdon thrilled by French concentration in closing stages

Kevin Gourdon was delighted with the way France held their nerve in their dramatic victory over Wales on Super Saturday.

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Mar 19

France’s prevailing dark arts against Wales offer rugby bloodgate reminder | Michael Aylwin

France engineered victory in Paris but at what price when considering the livid bite mark on the left arm of Wales’ George North

We could have another bloodgate on our hands. Whether you believe Dean Richards’s misdemeanour was the vilest crime perpetrated against a trusting world or just another storm in a teacup, the fact is it came with a three-year ban – and there is little to distinguish it from the manoeuvre France appear to have engineered in Paris. What’s more, unlike Harlequins’ fast one, France’s worked. In the most dramatic of circumstances.

Camille Chat’s try, at the end of the 100th minute of a game that seemed as if it would never end, secured France the win that clinches their first finish in the top three of the Six Nations since 2011. But the method by which they secured it is sure to attract the attention of the folk with access-all-areas badges. And then there’s the livid bite mark on the left arm of George North. That’s sure to be investigated too.

Related: Wales coach Rob Howley accuses France of ‘undermining game’s integrity’

Related: Racing 92 president Jacky Lorenzetti says Stade Francais merger is off

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Mar 18

Wales coach Rob Howley accuses France of ‘undermining game’s integrity’

• Rob Howley angry over replacement of Uini Atonio for alleged head injury
• Wales’s George North left with bite marks on arm after Six Nations match

The fallout from the extraordinary climax to France’s victory over Wales – secured 20 minutes after the 80 were up – looks set to run. Rob Howley, Wales’s coach, has accused the French of undermining the integrity of the game. He cited, as well, a distinct bite mark on the left arm of George North as further evidence of malpractice in those climactic final minutes.

Wales were facing a series of scrums on their five-metre line, defending a five-point lead, when France brought back on their best scrummager, Rabah Slimani, so that Uini Atonio might go for an alleged head injury assessment. Howley believes it was a tactical switch, which is against the laws of the game.

Related: France stun Wales by snatching win amid 100th-minute madness

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Mar 18

Noves bursting with pride as France pinch it at death

Guy Noves was delighted by the character shown by his France side as they battled to a dramatic last-gasp victory over Wales in their final 2017 RBS 6 Nations clash.

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Mar 18

Brice Dulin wins man of the match award in France victory

Brice Dulin was named man of the match for France in their 20-18 victory over Wales at the Stade de France. 

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Mar 18

France stun Wales by snatching win amid 100th-minute madness

• France 20-18 Wales
• Game lasts almost 100 minutes in astonishing last play

Extraordinary scenes. This was the sort of game to enrage the French, but notice of their revival has been served by the manner in which they found a way to the win, while chaos and insanity reigned. A full 20 minutes after the 80 minutes was up, they finally barged their way to victory with a try by Camille Chat, the conversion of which clinched France’s third win of the tournament.

Related: Ireland v England: Six Nations – live!

Related: France 20-18 Wales: Six Nations – as it happened

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Mar 18

France 20-18 Wales: Six Nations – as it happened

France prevailed after one of the most dramatic, chaotic conclusions to a game in Six Nations history, with nearly 20 minutes of extra time played before the hosts scored a converted try to snatch victory

Match report: France 20-18 Wales

5.16pm GMT

That brings this MBM to a close. After all the late drama, I will leave the final word to a reader I know Dan greatly enjoyed talking rugby with. Here’s Matt Dony:

“Many have said it more eloquently than me already, but Dan’s passing is a ridiculous loss. Gary Naylor’s tweet absolute nails-on-the-head the whole MBM world. I’ve never met any of the writers, or the regular contributors, but the names have all become familiar parts of my sporting enjoyment.

5.10pm GMT

What it means is that France move into second place, ending Scotland’s chances of finishing as runners-up. That will have been an unbearable final passage of play for them, too. England already have the title, but they’re going for the grand slam in Dublin right now. Join Michael Butler for that:

Related: Ireland v England: Six Nations – live!

5.08pm GMT

An awful lot to take in from almost 20 minutes of extra time. Rabah Slimani was allowed to come back on, Samson Lee’s absence was effectively curtailed by other delays, and I’ve no idea why Barnes didn’t just award a penalty try after repeatedly blowing up for Welsh trangressions. It was a glorious shambles; Dan would have loved it.

Related: France go the extra mile to defeat Wales in marathon finish

5.03pm GMT

Lopez kicks the conversion, and after a dull, scrappy game, one of the most bizarre conclusions to a game in rugby history ends in an unbelievably dramatic French victory!

5.02pm GMT

This is absolutely extraordinary. After another France advantage Antoine Dupont, the only player with any energy left, keeps driving for the line. Dan Biggar kicks the ball on the floor – meaning he’ll be sin-binned when play stops – but France keep pushing, and they finally haul the ball over the line! It looks like replacement hooker Camille Chat got the score.

4.59pm GMT

98 mins: Happily, we can play on, and the scrum goes again. The Welsh pack are turned, and Barnes gives the visitors a warning. If it happens again, there will be another yellow card – and potentially even a penalty try.

4.58pm GMT

96 mins: Nicky Smith is on for Rob Evans. It’s another penalty advantage for France, and another scrum. This half kicked off over an hour ago. And now there’s reportedly an issue with the fourth official…

4.57pm GMT

95 mins: We’re seeing replays of Dulin on the floor, close to North’s right leg. The TMO tells Barnes there is no conclusive evidence. Back to the French scrum.

4.55pm GMT

93 mins: There will be another stoppage here, as Barnes checks with TMO. The reason? George North is claiming he was bitten, and there’s a mark to prove it. This would be an extraordinary end to the game.

4.54pm GMT

91 mins: France get an advantage, but push for the line – first through Dupont, then Fickou down the left. They run out of forward momentum, and we’re going back to that scrum. And Samson Lee is coming back on!

4.51pm GMT

90 mins: Two more minutes, and Samson Lee will be able to come back on…

4.50pm GMT

89 mins: Another French penalty, and this time Picamoles kicks from hand and lunges for the line. Wales close the door, France switch to the left, but the ball is spilled. France had an advantage, and we’re back where we started. France scrum, three metres out.

4.49pm GMT

87 mins: France and Wales have now spent the best part of 10 minutes trying to put together an acceptable scrum…

4.45pm GMT

83 mins: There is a long, slightly farcical stoppage as Wales sort out their substitutes. Tomas Francis eventually comes on for Leigh Halfpenny, after convincing Barnes he is fit to return. The scrum leads to a French penalty and another French scrum, as the clock ticks on…

4.44pm GMT

81 mins: From the scrum, Picamoles barges to within inches of the line, but Wales hold on. Chouly repeats the trick, offloading to Dupont. France have a penalty advantage, and will get another chance. Samson Lee is shown a yellow card in that melee, and will have to hang on with 14 men! This is extraordinary drama.

4.41pm GMT

80 mins: The suspense is drawn out as Barnes resets the scrum a couple more times, before Uini Antonio goes off, replaced by Rabah Slimani. The French doctor confirms Antonio has a head injury. After a long wait, play restarts…

4.37pm GMT

79 mins: France have a scrum, five metres out. It’s now or never. Barnes warns Wales to hold their weight, and the scrum is reset twice. The referee’s fastidiousness is irritating the French pack, but this is a crucial moment…

4.36pm GMT

78 mins: France knocking at the door here, replacement scrum-half Dupont wriggling beyond two tackles. The hosts inch to within five metres, and get a penalty advantage, but Wales stand firm.

4.34pm GMT

77 mins: Yoann Huget and Julien Le Devedec are on for France, with the former stripped of the ball by Warburton. The captain tries a grubber kick that splits the French defence, but runs just out of play beyond the try-line.

4.32pm GMT

75 mins: Tipuric and Warburton lead the way in tackles; Wales have smothered France in this second half. France need a converted try, or their campaign will end in bitter disappointment.

4.29pm GMT

73 mins: Can Wales get over the line? They bring on Samson Lee, and bring back Ross Moriarty, trying to hold their makeshift pack together for another seven minutes.

4.29pm GMT

Barnes gives Wales another penalty, this time for a high tackle on Ken Owens, as the crowd vent their fury. Halfpenny scores from close range, and Wales restore their five point advantage.

4.26pm GMT

“Thanks for publishing all the memories of Dan. It feels odd watching the Six Nations and knowing that Dan’s gloriously splenetic (but scrupulously fair) commentary isn’t accompanying it today” says Oliver Bevan.

“Having left the UK a few years ago, I relied on Dan’s excellent commentary. I’ll miss him but am proud of what he established and proud to help continue building it. Also, this is an indescribably lovely, painfully honest, absolutely fitting tribute to Dan by his girlfriend, Liz.”

4.23pm GMT

Francois Trinh-Duc comes on for Lamerat rather than Lopez, and France power forward, winning a penalty under the posts. Lopez scores France’s first points in over 50 minutes of play.

4.22pm GMT

Slowly but surely, Wales are inching their way to victory here – but there’s still a long 15 minutes to go, particularly with their pack less sturdy with replacements coming in; Scott Baldwin has just come in for Jake Ball.

4.20pm GMT

A fifth successful penalty for Leigh Halfpenny, sending a low kick between the posts.

4.19pm GMT

63 mins: Barnes is not the most popular with this Paris crowd, but he’s correct to penalise a nudge at the lineout, preventing Tipuric claiming the ball. Halfpenny lines up another one…

4.17pm GMT

62 mins: Faletau strips the ball from French hands, before Tipuric sweeps it out wide to Liam Williams, who is short of support.

4.15pm GMT

60 mins: Wales continue to soak up France’s breaks forward, but Serin finds a precise diagonal kick to move them upfield. Replacement Chouly is forced out of touch, and France have 20 minutes to find a breakthrough.

4.11pm GMT

58 mins: Liam Williams, prone on the right touchline, does well to stop Fickou, and George North continues the impressive defence from the Welsh backs, proving a match for Guirado. The French crowd take a break from booing Wayne Barnes to belt out La Marseillaise.

4.09pm GMT

“I loved Dan’s take on cricket and rugby; his passion and enthusiasm always seemed to pervade his work” says Robert Shaw.

“Even with lacklustre games he made it worthwhile following his commentary. He seemed to lack the cynicism of many and would have been great company to chew the fat at close of play.”

4.08pm GMT

55 mins: Changes for France too. Rabah Slimani, Cyril Baille and Fabien Sanconnie go off, replaced by Uini Antonio, Eddy Ben Arous and Damien Chouly.

4.07pm GMT

54 mins: Changes for Wales, with Jamie Roberts and Luke Charteris on for Scott Williams and Ross Moriarty.

4.05pm GMT

Wales take the lead! Halfpenny’s kick is inch-perfect, his fourth penalty completing his team’s comeback from a ten-point deficit.

4.04pm GMT

52 mins: Alun Wyn Jones is going off, replaced by Luke Charteris with Sam Warburton returning to a familiar role as team captain. Wales win a penalty from the scrum. It’s on the halfway line, close to the touchline, but the in-form Leigh Halfpenny will have a go…

4.00pm GMT

51 mins: Scott Williams drops the ball and Fickou gathers. France kick clear, Tipuric doing well to protect the ball, and Wales win the scrum.

4.00pm GMT

49 mins: Given both sides’ prior efforts in this year’s tournament, it’s perhaps no great surprise that this has become a bit of a scrap. Dulin collects a sliced kick from Liam Williams, but is bundled into touch.

3.57pm GMT

47 mins: France get the momentum and the Welsh scrum subsides. Another put-in for France with the visitors looking vulnerable – but the hosts concede a penalty, and the crowd make their feelings known.

3.55pm GMT

46 mins: After a stoppage for Webb and the unfortunate Guirado to get patched up, play restarts with a French scrum…

3.54pm GMT

@niallmcveigh Dan took his sport seriously enough to know and care about it and lightly enough to find its joy and humour. MBMing nailed.

3.54pm GMT

45 mins: Webb’s kick is charged down and France have an unexpected opening – Wales are penalised for crossing, but France run out of room after juggling the ball along the touchline.

3.52pm GMT

44 mins: …Lopez then kicks towards Liam Williams, before finding touch with his next attempt.

3.51pm GMT

43 mins: Guirado, who has been able to continue after suffering with injury in the first half, collects from a French line-out. Serin sends the ball high into the sky, before Biggar returns the favour…

3.50pm GMT

42 mins: Alun Wyn Hones is in need of treatment after both packs collided in the opening minutes. Wales are sticking with the plan that worked against Ireland; getting the forward play and fundamentals right to frustrate their arguably more artistic opponents.

3.48pm GMT

We are back under way, with just one point separating the sides.

3.43pm GMT

Here are a couple more lovely tributes to Dan:

“So sad that Dan Lucas has gone. He was a wonderful writer whose work made every match much more enjoyable. If I couldn’t be with friends to watch England play he made me feel like I was watching with a friend. A witty and knowledgeable one with an enviable turn of phrase. Missing his company as the Six Nations concludes” – Max Swooth

3.37pm GMT

A message from Dan’s father, Gary:

“Just a word from the Lucas family (mum Tracey, sister Kirsty) and girlfriend Liz to thank all MBM and OBOers for their kind words. They really mean a lot. It is so good to know that people could see the Dan we knew and makes us very proud.”

3.31pm GMT

Lopez returns, but his kick-off is grasped by North, and Wales have one more attack. France turn the ball over, and kick for touch to end the first half.

3.29pm GMT

After a moment’s thought, Wales decide to take the three points on offer, Halfpenny slotting the ball over from close range.

3.28pm GMT

37 mins: From a Welsh scrum, the ball is chipped forward and Scott Williams breaks clear of a tackle. Wales get an advantage and work the ball to the right – but Tipuric is forced to scoop the ball from the floor, and Dulin makes the tackle.

3.27pm GMT

36 mins: Guirado is again down, receiving treatment for what looks like a shoulder injury. It’s been a tough half in terms of injuries for the hosts.

3.26pm GMT

34 mins: There’s been a brief lull in intensity, with both sides exchanging kicks, the match finely poised as half-time approaches.

3.22pm GMT

32 mins: Wales have rallied after France’s slow start, with George North winning a penalty to relieve pressure after slick passing from Serin. Vatakawa has returned to the fray, but fly-half Camille Lopez is off, being treated for a head injury.

3.20pm GMT

“Shocked and saddened to hear about the awful news of Dan Lucas passing away” says Dennis O’Neill.

“I’d just like to add my voice to those who offer their sincere condolences to his family, his partner, and you and everyone else at the Guardian on such a terrible and unexpected loss.
“I knew Dan’s work through the cricket OBOs and always looked forward to his work. I’ll miss him.”

3.18pm GMT

Wales decide to go for goal from the halfway line, and another precise Halfpenny kick cuts the deficit to four points.

3.16pm GMT

26 mins: Biggar leaps to collect Serin’s kick and Wales hold onto the ball, Jake Ball crashing through tackles before France are caught offside…

3.14pm GMT

25 mins: Serin is back on for France after receiving treatment. France need a win – no bonus points required – to stake their claim for second place, although if Ireland beat England later, it’s academic.

3.13pm GMT

23 mins: Urgency from Wales as they look to capitalise on their numerical advantage – but Biggar’s awkward kick cedes possession and Nakaitaci smartly carries the ball downfield.

3.11pm GMT

21 mins: Wales have a foothold in the game, and captain Alun Wyn Jones wins the ball from the line-out. A change at scrum-half for France, young Antoine Dupont replacing Baptiste Serin.

3.09pm GMT

Wales elect to kick, Halfpenny using up two minutes of Vakatawa’s enforced absence lining up the kick. It pays off, as he hooks a tricky effort between the uprights.

3.08pm GMT

18 mins: Barnes concludes that Vakatawa intentionally knocked on, to a barrage of jeers from the crowd. There’s no penalty try, but Vakatawa will spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

3.06pm GMT

17 mins: Wales almost find a gap down the right, but Biggar is held up by Vakatawa. Biggar complains that the French back knocked the ball on as he tried to offload to George North. I think he has a case, but Wayne Barnes will go to TMO.

3.04pm GMT

“Had the pleasure of meeting Dan once with Gary Naylor” says Ian Copestake. “Was a lovely moment for me and is a fond memory.”

3.02pm GMT

France win another cheap penalty as the Welsh scrum goes down. Lopez tucks the kick between the posts, and this is officially a bad start for Wales now.

3.02pm GMT

13 mins: Jonathan Davies is endeavouring to co-commentate, despite having almost totally lost his voice. I imagine this particular time of year is quite tough on Davies’ vocal chords.

2.59pm GMT

12 mins: From a rock-solid French scrum, Louis Picamoles benefits from a missed tackle and Gael Fickou bursts clear, but Wales hang on and regain possession.

2.58pm GMT

10 mins: A break in play as France captain Guirado gets treatment. Camille Chat is waiting on the touchline, in case the hooker can’t continue.

2.57pm GMT

9 mins: Ross Moriarty collects the ball cleanly and barrels forward before offloading to Justin Tipuric – but the move breaks down, and France will have a scrum deep in their own half.

2.53pm GMT

Simple but highly effective from France, Gourdon riding two missed tackles before Lopez skewers a pass over the Welsh defence. Remi Lamerat is first to it, and scores under the posts. Lopez adds the conversion.

2.49pm GMT

@niallmcveigh loved dan’s mbm & obo’s he will be missed by loads fantastic live blogger

2.49pm GMT

3 mins: Lopez’s kick from 45 metres is hooked toward the right-hand upright, but drops just short.

2.48pm GMT

2 mins: Noa Nakaitaci cuts infield as France start on the front foot. Sam Warburton is offside, and after an advantage, France will kick for goal…

2.45pm GMT

Dan Biggar kicks off, Picamoles wins the ball at the breakdown and Lopez fires his kick into touch.

2.44pm GMT

Time for the anthems, both sung with hair-raising ferocity. It’s a gloomy, overcast day just north of Paris, with a few empty seats but an almighty noise nonetheless. Wayne Barnes will get us under way.

2.40pm GMT

Guy Novés makes one change from the win over Italy, with Sebastién Vahaamahina replacing Julien Le Devedec. Rob Howley sticks with the team that defeated Ireland last time around.

France: Dulin, Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa, Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado (c), Slimani, Vahaamahina, Maestri, Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.

2.04pm GMT

I’m currently watching the last 20 minutes of Scotland v Italy, where many of you have paid lovely tributes to Dan. He was a great fan of a musical interlude, so here’s one from one of his favourite bands:

10.37am GMT

Wales go to Paris for a match where the winner stands a good chance of finishing second in this year’s Six Nations. There was a time when this fixture was worth even more; from 2004 to 2013, these two nations took eight of the 10 Championships available. Times may have changed, but today’s game is significant for both sides.

Guy Novès is seeking a first French top-half finish since 2011, and the extra job security that will bring. Wales, meanwhile, have one eye firmly on the world rankings. Victory, and defeat for Ireland later today would see them climb to fourth, increasing their chances of a much kinder World Cup draw than in 2015.

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Mar 17

France Under-20s come from behind against Wales to seal second place

A Romain N’tamack-inspired France Under-20s recovered from going 13 points down early on to beat Wales Under-20s 40-20 and clinch second spot in the 2017 Under-20s Six Nations.

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Mar 17

Wales have one eye on beating France and one eye on world rankings

Wales could move into top four with victory but final Six Nations match pits them against a rejuvenated, if hesitant, France

Graham Henry once lamented that Welsh rugby was bedevilled by extremes and that if it were a shower, it would be either too hot or too cold. This season has been no different and eight days after going into the match against Ireland knowing defeat in the final two rounds could take them out of the top eight of the rankings in May’s World Cup draw, Wales will move into the top four if they win in Paris and Ireland lose to England.

Wales have been obsessed by the world rankings since the start of the autumn international series. It is understandable given that in 2015 they were put in the same pool as England and Australia after slipping out of the top eight just before the draw, but it has hindered the development of the side with selection sclerotic.

Related: Six Nations: seven things to look out for this weekend

Related: George North’s two tries drive Wales past Ireland in thundering win

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Mar 16

Lievremont: Small strides the way forward for France Women

Olivier Lievremont insists he has changed little as France Women’s coach since taking charge in January, preferring to make small strides rather than wholesale changes in their attempt to defend the Women’s Six Nations title.

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Mar 16

Lievremont demands final flourish from France Under-20s

France Under-20s coach Thomas Lièvremont urged his side to finish their Championship on a high when they tackle their Welsh counterparts at Stade Sapiac on Friday night.

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