Jones wants first Grand Slam for Pivac
SPOTLIGHT: Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said on Friday the goal for this weekend’s trip to France was to claim a maiden Six Nations Grand Slam for coach Wayne Pivac and not to add another to his personal haul.
Jones, 35, can clinch a fourth clean sweep in the tournament with victory on Saturday, as many as England, Ireland, Scotland and Italy combined since the latter joined in 2000, in Pivac’s second campaign in charge.
Pivac won just three matches in his opening season at the helm after succeeding Warren Gatland following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“There is potential for it to be the first one with Wayne and I think that’s the focus,” Jones said.
“We’re not going to shy away from it, we know the experience we have and the experiences that we’ve had in the past but this is a new task,” he added.
Lock Jones will join former New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw on 148 caps for one country at the Stade de France but the Ospreys forward has the overall record with nine additional Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions.
“I refuse to turn the game into a numbers game. Any records don’t belong to the individual but to the game itself,” he said.
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 19, 2021
Jones’ men face a side who have lost just three times since Fabien Galthie took over after the World Cup and missed out on last year’s title on points difference.
Antoine Dupont, who has scored or assisted 14 of their 40 tries since Galthie was appointed, starts at scrumhalf for Les Bleus.
They can win this season’s tournament with bonus-point victories on Saturday and against Scotland next Friday.
“You look at France in the last two competitions, they have been the standout team, there’s no denying that,” Jones said.
“They’ve obviously got Antoine Dupont who is pulling the strings and has been the standout figure in the last two campaigns.
“They’ve obviously got a lot of structure and they’ve got the potential to be devastating on the counterattack.”
The sides have met each other three times in the last 15 months, with Jones’ outfit winning the World Cup quarterfinal before losing last February’s Six Nations meeting as well as October’s friendly.
“It’s a unique game, they’re coming to Paris looking for a Grand Slam. It’s a unique event,” France captain Charles Ollivon said.
“The context is totally different compared to last year’s tournament and the autumn. We are still in the race to win the trophy. The match will be different too.”