We look ahead to Sunday’s 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations match in Cardiff with our Wales vs France prediction and preview.

France are having a tough time of things in 2024 so far. A heavy loss, narrow win and a draw after three rounds is well below expectations for Fabien Galthié’s men. They’ll be hoping to close out the Championship with back-to-back victories to salvage some pride and a probable second-place finish.

First on their hit list is Wales and they’ve got good form against them, winning their last five clashes, including a 41-28 victory last year in Paris. This is their longest winning streak against the Principality since a run of 12 victories between 1983 and 1993, and with the Welsh having lost their three opening matches, Les Bleus should be confident.

France might be having a tough time of it but that is nothing compared to Wales’s woes. Ten losses in their last 11 Six Nations Championship matches is a huge worry and that Super Saturday clash against Italy in the final round is already set to be a massive match for both sides.

That said, this Round 4 clash with France could provide an opportunity to spring a surprise. All the pressure will be on Galthié’s side and if Warren Gatland can muster some momentum early on then they could earn a result that takes the pressure off in that Round 5 meeting with the Azzurri.


If there’s one person in rugby you’d try and keep happy, it’s Shaun Edwards. Luckily then, France boast the highest tackle success rate of any team in this year’s Six Nations (90%) and missed just 11 tackles during their most recent match against Italy, the fewest of any team in a single game this year.

France have also made a competition joint-high six try-saving tackles (tied with Italy) and just three of their missed tackles have led to a try being scored. Only Ireland have a lower tally (1) in that area. France are really putting everything in to defend their try line.

We can analyse how specifically those missed tackles have come about, too. A Championship-low 44% of their misses have seen them being ‘bumped off’, while only Scotland (39%) have seen a higher proportion of missed tackles come as a result of being ‘stepped’ (38%).

Those numbers will prick the ears of the lighter-footed Welsh attackers like Rio Dyer, suggesting the way through is dancing not bulldozing. That might be the reason for Gatland’s shuffle in midfield, with Owen Watkin and Joe Roberts replacing George North and Nick Tompkins.

The pickings are slim when looking for strengths in Wales’s 2024 Six Nations campaign so far. Their discipline has been good – only England (20) have conceded fewer penalties than Wales (21) – while their tally of just one yellow card is the best of any nation. Maybe that’s been part of the problem though, they’re being too nice.

Wales have the best ruck success rate (98%) of any side, but their average speed (4.4s) is the second slowest (England 4.6). They’ve made the second most carries and carry metres but their gainline success is the lowest of any side (36%).

Pretty much any positive you can find for Wales has a negative attached to it. They need to shake things up and maybe adopt a more direct and aggressive approach to break free in this one.


We’ve already stumbled upon quite a few of Wales’s weaknesses but one we‘ve not looked at is their lineout. Their success rate of 79% is the lowest of any side, and they lost a staggering six throws against Scotland and then two against each of England and Ireland.

Ryan Elias, who returns to start in this match, has been responsible for eight of the 10 misplaced throws so far and will need to realign his sights if Wales are to avoid giving away cheap ball.

For the French, they’ve been the most casual when it comes to keeping hold of the ball or indeed winning it back. They’ve conceded 47 turnovers and won just 11, their net loss of 36 being the worst of any side.

Six turnovers conceded in either a ruck or maul is the most of any side and only England (23) have turned the ball over more often by dropping it (20) than France.

2024 six nations turnovers

Standout Players

France’s Damian Penaud (50%) and Wales’ Rio Dyer (57%) are two of just four players to have evaded at least half of the tackles they’ve faced in the 2024 Six Nations (also Kyle Rowe and Alex Mitchell). Dyer also ranks joint-first for defenders beaten in this year’s Championship (12, also Ben Earl).

However, we’re plumping for Cameron Winnett as our standout player for Wales. Having only just turned 21, little was known about the Cardiff full-back, but he’s started his senior career in stride, topping the charts for carry metres (322) and metres gained (262) in the Championship so far.

Winnett cut his teeth in the Under-20 Six Nations, featuring in all 10 games across the 2022 and 2023 editions of the tournament, one of just six players to do so and the only Wales player in that group.

His eagerness to get involved in the action is highlighted by the fact he’s made the most carries (37) of any back in the 2024 Championship so far. Of his 37 carries, over half (20) have been kick returns, accruing 201 of his 322 metres specifically in this context.

Winnett ball carries - Wales vs France

Overall, he’s made just one mistake from the 21 catches he’s attempted from opposition kicks, and that was under extreme pressure from Kyle Steyn in the opening stages of Wales’ opening-round clash with Scotland. Since then, he is 19 from 19 on his defensive catches, a key factor in the success of any full-back.

Wales vs France Prediction

The Opta supercomputer makes France the strong favourites ahead of kick-off at the Principality Stadium. With France’s strong recent head-to-head record over the Welsh, it predicts the visitors will win by a 29-17 margin on Sunday.

Wales vs France Prediction - Opta

Wales vs France Lineups

In Welsh team news, it’s a new-look centre paring for Wales as Gatland shuffles the pack. Dafydd Jenkins still leads the Wales Six Nations squad, he will do so from six as he moves back in the pack. Sam Costelow will start at fly-half.

Wales: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Adam Beard, 6 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Alex Mann, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Mason Grady.

Ahead of the clash with Gatland’s charges, Galthie has released forwards Dany Priso, Posolo Tuilagi and Cameron Woki and backs Pierre-Louis Barassi, Emilien Gailleton and Antoine Hastoy.

Galthie also heads into the final two weeks of the Championship without Jonathan Danty (suspended) and Matthieu Jalibert, who was injured against Italy.

Below is their predicted lineup:

France: 15 Leo Barre, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Nicolas Depoortere, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Gregory Alldritt (c), 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Sébastien Taofifénua, 18 Georges-Henri Colombe, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Yoram Moefana

Other Six Nations Round 4 Fixtures:

Italy vs Scotland – Stadio Olimpico, Rome – Saturday 9 March, 14:15 GMT

England vs Ireland – Twickenham Stadium, London – Saturday 9 March, 16:45 GMT

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