Get Newsletter

Player Ratings: Gutsy France

OPINION: France moved within 80 minutes of their first Grand Slam since 2010 thanks to a hard-fought 13-9 win over Wales under the Principality Stadium floodlights.


Fabien Galthie’s team now face England in Paris next Saturday evening in a contest which – depending on the outcome of Saturday’s Round Four Twickenham clash between the 2019 World Cup runners-up and Ireland – will be either a winner-takes-all encounter or part of a thrilling Super Saturday finale in which Andy Farrell’s team could also lift the Six Nations title.

France led 10-9 at the break courtesy of a brilliant counter-attack try created by Melvyn Jaminet and finished by Anthony Jelonch, plus a penalty and a conversion from their fullback’s powerful right boot.

Dan Biggar kicked three penalties for the hosts who dominated the second half but only created one good scoring chance which ended with Jonathan Davies’ knock-on. As a result Jaminet’s second successful penalty plus some determined defence eventually gave France a crucial away win.

France captain Antoine Dupont was passed fit after injuring his arm during training on Tuesday which meant the return of winger Gabin Villiere for COVID-19 victim Damian Penaud was the only change to the starting XV which demolished Scotland.

Veteran British Lions centre Davies replaced concussion victim Nick Tompkins for Wales who also made three changes to their pack. Gareth Thomas was chosen ahead of Wyn Jones at loose-head prop while fit-again Josh Navidi and Seb Davies replaced Taine Basham and Ross Moriarty in the back row.

Paul Smith rates the French players:


15. Melvyn Jaminet – 7
Set a thrilling French counter-attack in motion which ended six phases later with him putting Jelonch in the corner. Played an important role in his team’s tactical kicking strategy despite firing one beyond the dead-ball line from his own ten-metre line and missing a long-range drop goal. Again looked less than secure under the high ball.

14. Yoram Moefana – 6
Generally well marshalled by a home defence that denied him attacking space. Unable to convert a one-on-one at the end of a breathless spell of end-to-end rugby in the first half.

13. Gael Fickou – 6
Less prominent with ball in hand than we have become accustomed to, Fickou shared the spoils in his high-profile contest with Davies and contributed ten tackles.

12. Jonathan Danty – 7
Another who saw less of the ball than of late, Danty spilled in contact deep inside his own half on the hour mark. However, he dug deep defensively to claim a crucial interception when Wales were pressing hard before winning a crucial penalty on the ground.


11. Gabin Villiere – 7.5
Posed a huge threat to the home defence as part of a back three who linked to good effect in the first half. Villiere’s phenomenal work-rate also caught the eye with the jackal penalty he won soon after the restart being a case in point.

10. Romain Ntmack – 5.5
Clearly working to a plan, Ntamack kicked more than usual and not always that effectively. France’s superstar no.10 was found wanting under the high ball on more than one occasion and pushed a straightforward drop goal wide when his team led by four points with 14 minutes remaining.

9. Antoine Dupont – 7
Served an early reminder of his class when he burst through a gap and offloaded in the tackle in the opening seconds. The home back row were never able to take their eyes off the French captain who posed a huge threat around the fringes and also found time to make a crucial cover tackle.

1. Cyril Baille – 7
Possibly the most influential forward of the 2022 Six Nations to date, Baille again showcased his close-quarter handling skills in addition to winning a crucial scrum penalty under his own posts.

2. Julien Marchand – 7.5
Carried hard, made plenty of tackles and as usual won penalties on the ground with his strength over the ball before departing in the 52nd minute.

3. Uini Atonio – 6.5
Saw plenty of ball in the loose where he consistently got over the gainline prior to being replaced by Haouas at half-time.

4. Cameron Woki – 5.5
Put under unaccustomed pressure in the air where Will Rowlands disrupted a French lineout lacking variety in its choice of targets.

5. Paul Willemse – 6
As ever did plenty of the close-quarter hard yards, hitting breakdowns and smashing into 13 tackles.

6. Francois Cros – 6.5
Soared high under a couple of restarts and worked hard in the loose. Led France’s defensive effort with 14 tackles.

7. Anthony Jelonch – 6
Claimed his country’s opening try after Jaminet’s brilliant counter-attack.

8. Gregory Alldritt – 5.5
Made an uncharacteristic handling error in the early stages and also failed to claim a Dan Biggar bomb. Conceded a needless penalty for kicking the ball through the ruck in the second half. Finished conclusively second in his personal heavyweight clash with the outstanding Taulupe Faletau.


16. Peato Mauvaka – 7
Arrived in the 52nd minute and proceeded to play his part in stabilising the French lineout before claiming the vital steal on the ground that clinched the spoils.

17. Jean-Baptiste Gros – 6
Given 28 minutes in which to impress, Gros played his part in the tight.

18. Mohamed Haouas – 6.5
Replaced Atonio at half-time and quickly made an impression by getting underneath Wales’ attempted lineout drive to win a goal-line drop out.

19. Thibault Flament – 5.5
Arrived with 15 minutes remaining to replace Woki and was fortunate not to receive a yellow card for an illegal clear-out.

20. Dylan Cretin – 6
Took over from Alldritt early in the fourth quarter and immediately smashed over the gainline.

21. Maxime Lucu – 6
The problem with being understudy to the world’s best no.9 is that you see very little action and again Lucu emerged from the bench inside the last ten minutes.

22. Thomas Ramos – Unused

23. Matthis Lebel –
Replaced Danty in the last minute.

By Paul Smith, @RugbyPass

Join free

Fresh Starts | Episode 1 | Will Skelton


Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 8

James Cook | The Big Jim Show | Full Episode

New Zealand victorious in TENSE final | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Men's Highlights

New Zealand crowned BACK-TO-BACK champions | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Women's Highlights

Japan Rugby League One | Steelers v Sungoliath | Full Match Replay

Rugby Europe Women's Championship | Netherlands v Spain

Write A Comment