The business end of the Six Nations is beginning to loom, bringing with it one of the more traditional mouthwatering fixtures in the rugby union calendar.
The French team with a perfect record travel to Wales to play the reigning champions, who are yet to produce anything resembling their best form. They have so far defeated the Scots with a laboured effort and lost to a rampant Ireland team.
The game will be played outside of daylight hours with an atmospheric feel under the lights at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.
When: Friday, Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET
Where: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
TV Info: Liveon BBC One and HD
Live Stream: BBC iPlayer
After being destroyed by a dominant Irish side, Wales will be looking to rebuild their Six Nations campaign. In only the third week of matches, their hopes of defending their title could be all but ended with a couple of games still to play.
The holders currently lie fourth after two matches, with the French joint top on points with Ireland:
|Six Nations Rugby Championship Table|
Wales captain and Lions hero Sam Warburton chose some strong words when assessing his team's performances so far. He issued a rallying cry for the players to respond, but he also warned against complacency, per BBC Sport:
I don't think anybody should feel safe in a Welsh jersey. The message from the coaches is play every Welsh game like it could be your last. So I don't think anybody should feel safe in a Welsh jersey, which is the best way to be. You want to go out playing with a little bit of that nervousness and a bit of fear, really, because that's what brings you out. When you get backed into a corner you should come out fighting and I think that's the way all players should respond.
Big chance for France
France have also had differing form, much like their hosts, but their resolve has seen them defeat a plucky England team in Paris and give out a mandatory beating of Italy.
They will feel that if they can defeat this Welsh side they will have one hand on the Six Nations trophy, eliminating the original favourites from contention. You can expect the French to adopt some of the tactics displayed by Ireland who hurt Wales during significant periods of the game.
But the French team also have added flair if needed, so this could develop into a very interesting game of rugby if points are put on the board early.
Wales will feel that this game against France has come at just the right time, allowing them to catch the teams that are currently ahead of them. This is a crunch match for them and a loss will destroy any hopes of glory in 2014.
If France can keep the penalty count down and restrict the boot of full-back Leigh Halfpenny, they can squeeze the life out of Wales and retain their place at the top of the leaderboard when they travel to Scotland for the fourth round of matches.
Wales face England at Twickenham next on Mar. 9.
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