On Saturday Wales take on France at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris. Paris has not been a happy hunting ground for Welsh rugby, we have only won three times in Paris since 1975. The last time we were victorious there was in 2005, during the first of Wales’ three recent Grand Slam years.
In addition, with our loss against Ireland 22-30 last Saturday in the opening match of the 2013 6 Nations, Wales go in to Saturday’s game on the back of eight successive defeats. These defeats have seen Wales slide from 4th in the World rankings back in March of last year to 10th, one place below Italy. If ever an indicator of the decline in Welsh rugby fortunes in the last 10 months were needed, this provides it.
The news was announced yesterday (Thursday) that Wales’ captain Sam Warburton will miss the match through injury.
One of the few positives Wales can cling to is the return from injury of Ryan Jones. He is a former Wales captain, and almost never fails to turn in a good performance for Wales. Possibly the only other positive Wales have is our display in the second half against Ireland.
France also go into Saturday’s match needing a win. In probably the shock result of the opening weekend of 6 Nation matches, France lost to Italy in Rome last Sunday. The French rugby public are notorious for giving their team a hard time. If France are playing badly against Wales on Saturday the crowd is likely to turn on them and start booing.
Two defeats in the first two games of the 6 Nations is a start from which few teams can recover, so a win is vital for both sides on Saturday. One team will surely be disappointed come the final whistle. Thankfully (or sadly, depending on your point of view), rugby trips to Paris ain’t like they were in the 1970s.