A team that wins by 43 points at Twickenham shouldn’t need a great deal of tinkering; a sentiment Fabien Galthie agrees with as he makes just two changes to the side that walloped England last week. Uini Atonio is back from his ban to start at tight-head and Romain Taofifenua is in for Paul Willemse.
Warren Gatland is taking very different approach, as he has the whole tournament. The changing of the team each week makes one think his selection strategy is to throw 40 names into a lottery machine and see which 23 gets fired out of the chute first. Six changes this week has Alun-Wyn Jones back at lock, and return to the flank for Aaron Wainwright in the forwards. In the backs, Louis Rees-Zammit returns, but as fullback replacement for the crocked Liam Williams, George North and Nick Tompkins reunite in the centres, and Dan Biggar is back as aggromeister-in-chief at 10.
France: Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Ethan Dumortier; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (c); Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Uini Atonio, Thibaud Flament, Romain Taofifenua, Francios Cros, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.
Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Bastien Chalureau, Sekou Macalou, Maxime Lucu, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet
Wales: Louis Rees-Zammit, Josh Adams, George North, Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (captain), Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Gareth Thomas, Dillion Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams, Owen Williams, Leigh Halfpenny
Welcome to Act II of Super Saturday, the part where things start to get a bit interesting regarding the outcome of the Championship. To try and keep this as simple as possible, if Ireland win later, they obviously win the whole show, Grand Slam and all; but if Andy Farrell’s men lose without a bonus point, then it’s time to get your calculator and multiple outcomes diagrams out.
If France claim victory with a bonus point – which after last week looks a very likely outcome – they will win the tournament (reminder, only if Ireland lose without a bonus point). If France win today without a bonus point, they will have to better Ireland’s points difference, which is current 20 better than Les Bleus’. Still with me? No? Good..
All of those mind-fogging permutations aside, the ask for France is a simple one: win by as many points as you can muster then hope for a form reversing miracle in Dublin.
Many people questioned whether introducing bonus points to the Six Nations was a good idea, but they can make the last day a little more interesting. The downside is that I’ve had to type “bonus point” in a match preamble far more than anyone would like, including myself.