Tomos Williams makes his first Six Nations start for Wales against FranceSix Nations: France v WalesVenue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Friday, 1 February Kick-off: 20:00 GMTCoverage: Live on BBC One, BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus…
|Six Nations: France v Wales|
|Venue:Stade de France, ParisDate:Friday, 1 FebruaryKick-off:20:00 GMT|
|Coverage:Live on BBC One, BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.|
Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams will make his Six Nations debut in the opening match of the 2019 championship.
Williams starts ahead of Gareth Davies, who has had a thigh injury, as Wales make three changes from the side that beat South Africa in their last match.
Wales’ other changes see prop Rob Evans and flanker Josh Navidi replace the injured Nicky Smith and Ellis Jenkins.
Romain Ntamack makes his debutin a France side with just three players from last year’s meeting with Wales.
The 19-year-old surprisingly replaces talismanic centre Mathieu Bastareaud, and is one of two debutants along with South Africa-born lock Paul Willemse.
Wales go into the match at the Stade de France seeking their 10th victory in a row.
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France:15-Maxime Medard, 14-Damian Penaud, 13-Wesley Fofana, 12-Romain Ntamack, 11-Yoann Huget, 10-Camille Lopez, 9-Morgan Parra; 1-Jefferson Poirot, 2-Guilhem Guirado (capt), 3-Uini Atonio, 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 5-Paul Willemse, 6-Wenceslas Lauret, 7-Arthur Iturria, 8-Louis Picamoles
Replacements:16-Julien Marchand, 17-Dany Priso, 18-Demba Bamba, 19-Felix Lambey, 20-Gregory Alldritt, 21-Baptiste Serin, 22-Gael Fickou, 23-Geoffrey Doumayrou
Wales:15-Liam Williams, 14-George North, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Gareth Anscombe, 9-Tomos Williams; 1-Rob Evans, 2-Ken Owens, 3-Tomas Francis, 4-Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 5-Adam Beard, 6-Josh Navidi, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Ross Moriarty
Replacements:16-Elliot Dee, 17-Wyn Jones, 18-Samson Lee, 19-Cory Hill, 20-Aaron Wainwright, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Dan Biggar, 23-Owen Watkin
Eddie Butler:“Not even France at their most French will play as badly as they did last November, when they lostfair and squarely to Fiji in Paris.
Chastised France are bound to be motivated, powerful up front and have included in their backs the exciting sons (Damian and Romain) of famous fathers: Alain Penaud and Emile Ntamack.
There is guile here and muscle and promise. Enough to beat Wales and end the visitors’ nine-game winning run?
Wales do tend to ease their way, rather than flow seamlessly, into new campaigns, but they are experienced and unafraid to be on the road.
For most of the second half of the 20th century it was lunacy to predict a Welsh win in Paris. Seems to be almost routine now. Cue French victory… no, Wales by nine.”
View from both camps
France head coach Jacques Brunel on the decision to leave out centre Mathieu Bastareaud:“It’s not a sanction, he’s an important player in the squad. He’s definitely not been thrown out. Romain Ntamack is a strong pick.
“Of course, he’s a lad whose qualities we all know. He’s shown since the start of the season that he’s capable of adapting to the levels he’s played at.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland on Bastareaud’s omission:“We had expected him to be included. He has been a big part of their squad.
“Probably what surprised me as much as anything was the fact he is not in the 23. I thought if he wasn’t in the starting XV, he would be on the bench as an impact player for the last 20 minutes.
“Their last home game in the Six Nations was a win against England, and they should have beaten Ireland in that first game as well. They are going to be a tough proposition.”
- Wales have won six of the last seven meetings since the 9-8 World Cup semi-final defeat in 2011.
- The last two meetings have been settled by just three points in total.
- France have lost six of their last seven Tests.
- Their tally of six tries conceded was the fewest in the 2018 Six Nations.
- Hooker Guilhem Guirado has scored four tries in his last three Tests.
- Wales are currently on a nine-match winning run, their best sequence since 1999.
- On only two occasions have they enjoyed longer winning runs in their Test history – 11 wins from 1907-10 and 10 wins in 1999.
- Their team includes nine players who started last year’s corresponding fixture; France’s has just three.
- Ken Owens will become Wales’ most-capped hooker of all time with his 61st appearance.
Referee:Wayne Barnes (England)
Touch judges:Matthew Carley (England) & Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO:Rowan Kitt (England)