France enter ‘serious mode’ ahead of Shaun Edwards’ Wales return

Shaun Edwards

Shaun Edwards’ Welsh return is going to be a serious one as France knuckle down in an attempt to win their opening three matches for the first time since 2010. Robert Rees has the latest from the French camp.

Edwards return is a serious one

France haven’t won in Cardiff since lifting the Grand Slam back in 2010. Since then a smorgasbord of players and coaches have come and gone, but with no long term lasting effects.

Under current head coach Fabien Galthié and former Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards they have revived the old French flair in an attempt to raise the trophy and take it back Francais.

Despite comments all week from both camps regarding scrum ‘cheating’ and then Raphael Ibanez’s questioning of Dan Biggar’s fitness the mood quickly changed to a fully focused one on the match tomorrow.

France in no mood for games

When asked by a journalist at the captain’s run Team Manager Raphael Ibanez took a disliking to the questions regarding the ‘scrum saga’ and Dan Biggar’s fitness.

“We’ve replied to that yesterday,” he said. “No more comments on that, but we’re delighted to come back here to this beautiful stadium. It’s an amazing venue and place to play some good rugby. It was very quiet, but this could change, which is great.

“It’s more down to the Wales coaching staff expressing their thoughts, anyone can express their thoughts. We focus on the game now.”

France not riled by Welsh comments

Ibanez was in to bat and made the most of it, swinging at plenty of questions to send them back at the person who asked them.

“I can’t make any comments on what other coaches do, that’s down to them.”

French struggles in Cardiff

France haven’t won in Cardiff for 10 years. Despite the lack of success Ibanez was quick to praise this weekend’s opponents.

“Wales are a very good team with great players. It’s very simple,” he explained.

Lack of French experience won’t hurt them

Wales host well over 800 caps in their squad whilst France languish down in the 330s. Despite the lack of experience Ibanez strongly believes his side can claim the victory on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s just a fact. The truth is we’ve got very young players in the team, but we trust them and are confident in their ability to cope with the atmosphere in the game.”

Shaun Edwards focused on the task in hand

One could forgive Edwards an emotional return to Cardiff after spending well over 100 games here as defence coach.

However, despite the lure of emotion tying him up Ibanez insists he’s a man focused on one job. Supporting his own players.

“He spent so much time here and has been very loyal to Wales and he loved coaching here. We’re lucky to have him here now. Prav [Mathema, WRU doctor], Shaun Edwards and I have a Wasps connection so we’ll be very pleased to have a drink after the game.

“We talked at the start of the week and I asked him what was his approach to the game and whether it was too much emotionally. Shaun is very professional and his reply was clear, he said his only focus this week was to do the best for players.

“It was proper Shaun Edwards,” he quipped.


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