France player ratings: Rookie fills Antoine Dupont’s boots as bench blows Wales off the park

Jared Wright
France's Romain Taofifenua on their way over to score their side's fourth try during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.

France's Romain Taofifenua on their way over to score their side's fourth try during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.

Following France’s 45-24 victory over Wales at the Principality Stadium, here is how we rate Fabien Galthie’s charges in the Six Nations triumph.

France player ratings v Wales

15 Leo Barre: Thrown into the deep end starting on debut at the imposing Principality Stadium, and he certainly made the most of his chance with some wonderful moments with the ball in hand and kicked well, too. However, he was a bit suspect on defence, leaving Rio Dyer with a clear run to the try when he was caught out of position and made a poor tackle attempt on Joe Roberts. 6

14 Damian Penaud: We are convinced that he isn’t too sure what he is going to do until the last split second as he constantly kept the Welsh defence on their toes. France look far more lethal on attack when he gets his hands on the ball, and he did so on several occasions today. No try today, but he did get two assists as he sent Fickou over in the first half and Maxime Lucu in the second. 8

13 Gaël Fickou: His performances remain under the microscope with France’s defence still not up to scratch, but the caveat of having a new young centre partner inside him is certainly an understandable excuse. He showed some lovely subtle footwork to finish off his try and set up another. Has only improved as the tournament has gone on. 8

12 Nicolas Depoortere: There was always a risk of throwing in the young centre into the cauldron that is the Principality Stadium and while he held his own for the most part and had flashes of excellence in attack, his defence let him down with one misread directly resulting in a try. Still plenty of promise and one to keep an eye on. 5

11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey: Much like his fellow winger, France looks far more threatening on the attack when their livewire speedster gets his hands on the ball. It was probably his best game of the Championship with a sharp defensive shift, too. 6

New half-backs

10 Thomas Ramos: Struggled at times, which is to be expected in his first start at fly-half for Les Bleus, but in the end, he kicked well and ran the attack superbly in a bonus-point victory. He kicked 8/9 from the tee and caused the Welsh defence all kinds of havoc. Defensively, he was shaky, and France tried to shield him from those duties with reasonable success. 7

9 Nolann Le Garrec: The calls grew and grew with each passing cameo off the bench for the Racing 92 star to start, and when given a chance, he gripped it with both hands and some. His flair pass was glorious to watch, but there was much more to his game. He kicked well, kept the defence guessing, grabbed a try, and set the platform for the late flurry. The first Test that France didn’t really miss Antoine Dupont that much. 9


Another Six Nations thriller! France win eases pressure on Fabien Galthie as Wales risk wooden spoon embarrassment

Loose forwards

8 Gregory Alldritt (c): Back from injury and back to his usual standards with a busy performance on both sides of the ball. Strong in his carries, gaining 50 metres from his 15 runs and thundered into 10 tackles. 7

 Planet Rugby player ratings key 10 - Career defining performance 9 - Outright blockbuster effort 8 - Significantly influenced the result of the game 7 - Committed and effective outing 6 - Flashes of brilliance outside of executing fundamentals 5 - Fulfilling the role required by position (base level) 4 - Poor execution of fundamentals 3 - Costly errors and/or discipline in the game 2 - Poor performance that directly impacted the result 1 - Grossly ineffective throughout 0 - Should have carried water instead 7 Charles Ollivon: A bit of a quieter shift from the experienced back-rower but not a poor one as he was a solid lineout option as per usual and was busy on defence. 6

6 François Cros: He will be kicking himself about the missed tackle on Rio Dyer, but that would be his sole miss of the game as he returned to the high standard that he has set this Six Nations. A monster at the breakdown and a tireless tackler. 7

Tight five

5 Emmanuel Meafou: Wasted no time in settling in as he made his long-awaited Test debut after qualifying through residency. He lasted just 52 minutes, but it was an effective shift as he was part of a brutal tight five performance, lending his weight in the scrum and drawing defenders in with his carries. He also showed his softer skills with his link-up play, which France made good use of. 7

4 Thibaud Flament: A relentless shift on his return from injury as he posted a strong 80-minute performance. Never seems to run out of energy, he hammered into rucks throughout the game and got his hands on the ball plenty. 8

3 Uini Atonio: Gareth Thomas will be glad to see the back of the big tighthead, who taught the Welsh loosehead a lesson in the scrums in a truly dominant 52-minute shift. Set the platform for the late surge from France and emphatically threw down the marker. 8

2 Julien Marchand: Deservedly shifted into the starting XV, and it worked wonders with the lineout operating better in the first half while he, too, was a dominant force as the starting back wore down the Welsh pack. 7

1 Cyril Baille: Copy and paste from his fellow front-rowers. 8

Replacements: With the platform laid, Fabien Galthie emptied half of his bench early in the second half, and it was that quartet that impressed as the tight five continued to boss the game up front. Maxime Lucu proved that he is a better impact player for the French, finishing the game well, grabbing a try, while prop and lock Georges-Henri Colombe and Romain Taofifenua cemented the tighthead side of the scrum and grabbed tries. The bench really took the game away from Wales in fantastic fashion. 9

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