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With international rugby coming back into full swing, two teams are looking for redemption and itching to make a statement on Saturday, as Wales takes on France.
As both teams gear up for a huge November, Saturday’s test between France, currently ranked sixth in the world, and Wales, which is seventh will be thrilling to watch and should reveal the shape each team is in post rugby lockdown.
Oct. 24 | 3:10PM ET
In a week’s time, France will square off with Ireland in Round 5 of the resumed Six Nations, while Wales will take on Scotland.
There is still plenty at stake for the French in the Six Nations, although they’ll be kicking themselves for blowing an opportunity at a Grand Slam back in March. However, with a bonus-point win over the Irish, France can put itself back in position to win the Six Nations for the first time in a decade. It would go a long ways to validate the hard work they’ve put into investing in their youth.
First things first, they’ll get the wheels spinning once again with a bout against rivals Wales this Saturday in France.
🇫🇷🏴 𝐕𝐎𝐓𝐑𝐄 𝐗𝐕 𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐋𝐀̀ !— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) October 22, 2020
Rendez-vous samedi à 21h10 au @StadeFrance contre le Pays de Galles (@WelshRugbyUnion) pour le coup d'envoi de ce premier match d'automne ! 🔥 #FRAGAL #XVdeFrance #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/wOfBMHSOs7
France coach Fabien Galthie will make three changes from the side that last ran out against Scotland. Notable in the lineup is tighthead prop Mohamed Haouas, who was red-carded for throwing a punch to Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie their last match out.
Charles Ollivon will once again captain the side from his flanker post, with Cyril Baille coming in for the now-retired Jefferson Poirot at loosehead prop.
The ever-dangerous and ever-improving combination of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack will take the reins at halfback and flyhalf, while Gael Fickou moves into the centers from the wing. Dynamic winger Damian Penaud will be absent through injury, making way for the electric Teddy Thomas in the #14 shirt.
Oct. 24 | 3:10PM ET
Wales had a 2019 for the ages, winning the Six Nations Grand Slam before making a run all the way to the World Cup Semi-Final; it took a last-minute South Africa penalty to eventually knock them out.
The good times couldn’t last, however, as legendary coach Warren Gatland stepped down after 12 years in charge. New boss Wayne Pivac had some huge shoes to fill, and thus far has found the sledding to be pretty tough.
Wales shut out Italy in Round 1 of the Six Nations, but have since lost three straight games to Ireland, France, and England. With a number of injured players coming back into the fold this Autumn, Wales hopes to end the Six Nations with a victory over Scotland and a then deliver a big time performance in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Wayne Pivac and his side will look to get the ball on Saturday against a French side he failed to defeat back in February.
𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 ⫶ Wayne Pivac names first Wales team in seven months: https://t.co/4ncYr46jwR— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 22, 2020
𝟭𝟰𝟴 ⫶ Alun Wyn Jones to equal world record for international appearances this Saturday in Paris.
👥 ⫶ Dau gap newydd ar y fainc: Sam Parry, Louis Rees-Zammit
🏴 #HWFN pic.twitter.com/F2QEDNlTI0
Pivac has made nine changes to the team that lost 33-30 in its last time out against England back in March. Not among those changes will be captain Alun Wyn Jones, who’s 148th international appearance on Saturday will tie him with the iconic Richie McCaw for most international tests of all time. It’s a deserved honor for one of the great talismans in Welsh rugby history.
Six of the changes will be in the forward pack, which see Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Cory Hill, Aaron Wainwright, and Taulupe Faletau subbing in respectively for Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Ross Moriarty, and Josh Navidi respectively.
Oct. 24 | 3:10PM ET
In the backline, British & Irish Lions halfback Rhys Webb rejoins the team after his stint in France, and the long-awaited chance to see Jonathan Davies team up with Nicky Thompkins in the midfield comes to an end, with Davies fully fit after his knee injury.
Perhaps most exciting of all is the prospect of seeing teen sensation Louis Rees-Zammit enter the game off the bench. The Gloucester man has been one of the breakout stars of the English Premiership this year, and at 19 years of age already has half the country tantalizing over his talents.
The last matchup between Wales and France was an instant classic, with the French nipping Wales 27-23 in Cardiff.
One of the key storylines then remains one of the key storylines now: Shaun Edwards. The former Welsh defensive coach of 12 years took over the French defense this year, guiding them to victories over both England and Wales. Edwards, who is forever grateful for the friends, the memories, and the successes he made in Wales, has said facing Wales is never something he will look forward to. Nevertheless, he’d better get used to it, as there is the chance he will face Wales once more during the Autumn Nations Cup with a title on the line.
Saturday’s showdown between two of the world’s best teams will be full of action, and it’s not something you’ll want to miss. Tune in to FloRugby on Saturday at 3:10 pm (ET) to catch this enthralling matchup!