Six Nations

Charteris: France a must win

2015-02-27 16:33
Luke Charteris (Gallo Images)

Enghien-les-Bains - Wales lock Luke Charteris says Saturday's Six Nations clash against France is a pressure match as both sides desperately need to win.

Wales have won their last three in a row against France, including a 16-6 victory the last time they met at the Stade de France in Paris, two years ago when they won the Six Nations despite losing their opening match at home to Ireland.

But with both sides having already lost once -- Wales were beaten 21-16 at home to England in their opening match while two weeks ago France fell 18-11 to Ireland in Dublin -- defeat on Saturday would mean the end of their championship hopes.

"I think here for sure it will be a tough game because both us and the French, we're in the same position, if we lose the tournament is over," said Charteris, who plies his club trade in Paris with Racing-Metro.

"We both need to win to keep our hopes of winning the tournament."

Charteris is one of five players in the Wales 23 who play in France while two of his Racing team-mates and four former team-mates from his Perpignan days are in the French XV.

So the giant six foot 11 inch (2.10-metre) 31-year-old knows Philippe Saint-Andre's team perhaps better than anyone else in the Wales camp.

But he says what is more important is the fact that playing in France has improved him as a player.

"I think I'm a much better player after two years in Perpignan and (six months at) Racing," he said.

"When I play in Top 14 it's very tough and I think I'm better than before."

France have made some changes to their line-up, many injury or suspension-enforced, but crucially bulldozing centre Mathieu Bastareaud has dropped to the bench and Morgan Parra has come in at fly-half.

But Charteris is not expecting that to change much.

"The French team has changed a bit, maybe it's different but the tactics will be the same. They'll be strong up front, in the scrum and lineout.

"If we can win the battle up front, with our backs we can win the game.

"Without Mathieu Bastareaud maybe they'll change tactics a bit. I know Remi Lamerat as well, maybe he's a bit quicker (than Bastareaud) but we hope we'll be able to adapt to what's in front of us."

- Forward contest -

The last few matches between the Welsh and French have been tense and terse forward battles with few tries.

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde believes Saturday's game will follow a similar pattern.

"I don't think it's going to be any different, obviously they'll play to their strengths and the forward pack with regard to their driving lineout, scrums.

"They will pose a big threat in that area so I don't think they'll go away from that when they face us.

"They had a bit of success especially against Scotland driving a few lineouts, so yes, I think it's going to be very contested up front."

But McBryde believes that if the Welsh can prevent France from getting into their stride, that will be crucial to gaining the upper hand.

"I think it's down to confidence, once you face a French team that's full of confidence and with a willingness to play, they're a match for anybody.

"That's what Scotland did, they subdued France, got into that game, frustrated France as well, and they kept them quiet.

"If we can do the same tomorrow, it's going to make it hard work for them.

"It's making sure we start very strongly and it's the opening 20 minutes, half an hour that's going to be key if we don't allow them to grow and feel confident, and hopefully pose a few questions."

Teams:

France:

15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Sofiane Guitoune, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Romain Taofifenua, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous

Substitutes: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Sebastian Tillous-Borde, 22 Remi Tales, 23 Mathieu Bastareaud

Wales:

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gethin Jenkins

Substitutes: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Paul James, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams

Read more on:    wales  |  six nations  |  rugare gumbo
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