I wonder how many times you have heard the phrase “Which French team will turn up” this week ? Probably as many times as you’ve seen Sam Warburton’s red card revisited on every media platform known to mankind.
Wales face France on Sunday in the Rugby World Cup quarter finals, it’s hard to believe that eight years have elapsed that rainy night in Auckland when a nation wept after losing a semi final to France 9-8 whilst playing with fourteen men for 63 minutes.
Many thought the chance of World Cup glory might never come again but here Wales are 240 minutes away from potential glory the like of which the country has never witnessed before.
France are just being France at a World Cup, strife in the camp with captain falling out with coach, a full back returning home injured only to turn out for his club a few days later in the Top 14, and who knows what else has been going on behind the scenes, but Wales beware this is when les Bleus are at their most dangerous.
There appears to be a quiet calm in the Welsh camp, a settled side that have overcome the Cymric rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs that were a trademark of the national team and its followers, they don’t panic when they fall behind anymore,they know how to close out games and they appear to be able to get up for the really big occasions.
Despite France dismal record under Noves and Brunel they still have the ability to produce moments of genius, in this tournament they have tended to have produced them in the opening quarter of their matches before gradually unravelling into a shambles by the time the final whistle had blown.
Wales will hope that this vein of form will continue until Sunday at least,
In this years Six Nations encounter in Paris France dominated the first half racing into a 16-0 in the rain and icy sleet of Saint Denis before imploding into a soggy mess in the second half.
In 2011 the Welsh nation wept with sadness and pride some of us are hoping that rugby karma will take us and Wales into a blissful week where we can continue to dream.