France vs Wales: Kick-off time, how to watch, team news, lineups
rance take on Wales in the penultimate Six Nations fixture in Paris, still with slim hopes of successfully defending their title.
Ireland will claim a second Grand Slam in five years and first ever in Dublin if they beat England in the late kick-off on Super Saturday, but a rare mistake from the Men in Green could be to the glory of Les Bleus, who kick off some two-and-a-quarter hours earlier at the Stade de France.
For Fabien Galthie’s side to pip their Irish counterparts to a second straight triumph at the last, they would need to beat Wales with a bonus point and hope that Ireland are beaten by England without picking up a losing bonus point.
Per the official Six Nations website, they could also do it if they manage to close the points difference, if France win with a bonus point and Ireland lose with a bonus point, or if France win without a bonus point and Ireland lose without a bonus point.
France insist they are focused on only the task at hand against Wales, with a slip-up from Ireland against an England team totally bereft of confidence having been smashed by 43 points – their heaviest-ever Twickenham loss and third-largest anywhere in the world – by their old rivals from across the Channel seeming extremely unlikely at this stage.
Galthie’s men were utterly spellbinding in London in round four, combining ferocious rucking and defensive nous with dreamy handling, footwork and speed despite the wet conditions in a seven-try blitz that will have raised confidence levels after a somewhat inconsistent defence of their first Grand Slam since 2010 and a home Rugby World Cup looming large on the horizon in the autumn.
They will be huge favourites to brush aside Wales, who have endured a torrid tournament both on and off the pitch but should avoid a first Six Nations wooden spoon for 20 years after a bonus-point 29-17 win in Italy last time out. Warren Gatland has suggested that this will be the last fixture in this competition for at least eight of his senior players as he targets a squad refresh.
France vs Wales date, kick-off time and venue
France vs Wales is the middle game on Six Nations Super Saturday, taking place after Scotland vs Italy at Murrayfield but before Ireland battle England in Dublin.
The match takes place at the Stade de France in Paris on March 18, with a kick-off time of 2:45pm GMT.
How to watch France vs Wales
TV channel: In the UK, France vs Wales is being broadcast live on ITV, with coverage beginning at 1:55pm.
Live stream: Fans can also catch the game live online by visiting the ITV website or ITVX app.
The match is also available to watch via Welsh-language TV channel S4C and S4C Clic online.
Live coverage: Follow all the action live via Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog.
France vs Wales team news
France show two changes from the side that humiliated England at Twickenham, with first-choice tighthead prop Uini Atonio back from suspension in place of Dorian Aldegheri.
The other alteration to the starting XV is in the second row, where the injured Paul Willemse is replaced by Romain Taofifenua. Montpellier lock Bastien Chalureau comes onto the bench.
It’s another raft of changes from Gatland to continue the theme of Wales’ largely wretched tournament, six in total.
Alun Wyn Jones is back in the second row in place of Dafydd Jenkins, who drops to the bench, while Aaron Wainwright makes his first appearance of the 2023 Six Nations in place of the injured Jac Morgan at flanker.
The fit-again Dan Biggar is back at fly-half in place of Owen Williams, while Nick Tompkins and George North are paired together in a new-look midfield at the expense of Joe Hawkins and Mason Grady and Louis Rees-Zammit gets the nod at full-back with Liam Williams sidelined.
Rhys Webb keeps hold of the scrum-half jersey ahead of Tomos Williams after earning man-of-the-match honours on his first Six Nations start since 2017 in Rome, while Leigh Halfpenny is fit enough for the bench after more injury strife.
Vastly-experienced number eight Taulupe Faletau is handed his 100th senior Wales cap by Gatland.
France vs Wales lineups
France XV: Ramos; Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Dumortier; Ntamack, Dupont (c); Baille, Marchand, Atonio, Flament, Taofifenua, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt.
Replacements: Mauvaka, Wardi, Falatea, Chalureau, Macalou, Lucu, Moefana, Jaminet.
Wales XV: Rees-Zammit; Adams, North, Tompkins, Dyer; Biggar, Webb; W Jones, Owens (c), Francis, Beard, AW Jones, Wainwright, Tipuric, Faletau.
Replacements: Roberts, Thomas, Lewis, D Jenkins, Reffell, T Williams, O Williams, Halfpenny.
France vs Wales head to head (h2h) history and results
Wales won eight of nine meetings with France between 2012-19, but the tables have firmly turned since then.
The French will be gunning for a fifth consecutive victory in this fixture on Saturday, having triumphed 13-9 in a gruelling battle in Cardiff 12 months ago.
France wins: 48
Wales wins: 51
France vs Wales prediction
France still have a slight chance of defending their title, but they must not let attentions drift to start dreaming of an unlikely England upset in Dublin.
The focus has to stay on Wales, who have been dreadful for most of the Six Nations but did get that confidence-boosting win in Rome last weekend.
France were just phenomenal at Twickenham and even if they play with only half the intensity and ferocious tempo here, it should still be enough to triumph comfortably.
France to win by 17 points.
France vs Wales match odds
France to win: 1/20
Wales to win: 11/1
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).