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Fabien Galthie claims France team were ill in Cardiff

By PA
Fabien Galthie /PA

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France head coach Fabien Galthie has claimed his side’s relatively subdued performance against Wales was due to widespread illness in his team.

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Les Bleus overcame Wales 13-9 at the Principality Stadium as the defending Six Nations champions lost for the third time in four games this season.

It was maybe the first mediocre France performance of the tournament, with the side restricted to just one try in the first half to Anthony Jelonch. For much of the contest, Wales were in the ascendancy, although Wayne Pivac’s side ultimately failed to make it count in the scoreboard.

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Back in the Game – RFU
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Galthie, who had previously revealed that Antoine Dupont had injured his arm in training leading into the Round 4 game,  put the flat French performance down to a viral malaise in the squad.

“Wales were very tactical and tried to push us back with a lot of very long kicks,” said the 52-year-old.

“We managed to react well to their game. We knew it would be difficult because they have won the competition several times, and it’s not by chance.

“We had a team that was ill, half of them with flu and half of them with Covid.

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“But despite the virus the team has managed to get a victory, and that’s the most important thing.”

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Wales captain Dan Biggar said he was “annoyed” by France’s narrow Cardiff victory that left Les Bleus within touching distance of a first Guinness Six Nations title and Grand Slam since 2010.

Victory over England in Paris next week will confirm France as European champions, but Biggar felt Wales should have ended their visitors’ Grand Slam quest.

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Outside-half Biggar, who kicked Wales’ nine points, said: “I’m annoyed really is the bottom line, that we haven’t picked up certainly one win in the last two games

“I’m frustrated, annoyed, disappointed – all those things. We said in the huddle after the game that we could have nicked it in Twickenham a couple of weeks ago, coming back after not starting well.

“I thought tonight we were the better team against the best team in the world at the moment.

“Big Test matches hinge on one or two big moments. We didn’t quite nail ours and France took theirs.”

Dan Biggar
Dan Biggar /PA

Wales saw their own 2021 Grand Slam hopes ended by France in a heartbreaking 32-30 Paris defeat.

This campaign has been far more of a struggle for a Welsh side who head into the final weekend with only one win, against Scotland, under their belt.

But Biggar said: “You know when you play well and you know when you play poorly.

“We played very poorly on the opening weekend in Dublin, and we’ve certainly got better as the tournament has gone on.

“We were one score away from beating France, we were one score away from beating England.

“That’s annoying and frustrating, but there’s no doubt we’re in a much better place than when we kicked off against Ireland in Dublin.

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“We’ve got to make sure we come here next Saturday, do a good job on Italy, and finish the campaign on a high.”

Biggar could win his 100th Wales cap against bottom-placed Italy in Cardiff.

Alun Wyn Jones, Test rugby’s most capped player with 161 appearances for Wales and the British and Irish Lions, is also set to feature against the Azzurri after undergoing shoulder surgery in the autumn.

Head coach Wayne Pivac said of long-time captain Jones: “He’ll be officially added to the squad this weekend.

“He’s worked very, very hard as Alun Wyn does. He’s been training with the team, helping prepare the team for this week’s game. He’ll be available for selection.”

France looked as if they could win comfortably when flanker Anthony Jelonch strolled over for the game’s only try after just nine minutes.

But Wales fought back and there was never more than one score between the sides, with a real arm wrestle providing no points at all in the final 33 minutes.

 

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