The battle of the northern hemisphere gets under way on Saturday as Wales attempt to make their first ever World Cup final at the expense of France.
Both teams made it to the semis having upset the odds –with Wales expected to falter against Ireland while England’s hoodoo over France was anticipated to go on for another tournament – and now they’ll look to go one step further and set up a final against either New Zealand and Australia.
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Wales head coach Warren Gatland has one major injury concern ahead of the semi-final at Auckland’s Eden Park as fly-half Rhys Priestland was ruled out of the game with a shoulder injury picked up against Ireland.
The Scarlet number 10 has claimed the position for himself at the World Cup after seeing off challenges from James Hook and Stephen Jones, but in his absence Hook will step up to the crucial role for the first time since their warm up game against England in August. Jones, who passed the hundred cap mark for his country during the Pool stages is promoted to the bench having been left out of the match 22 for the past two games.
France have no such troubles and are able to name the same side that shoved England out of the tournament last week after Dimitri Yachvili shook off a knock picked up against Martin Johnson’s side to take his place at scrum half.
Wales’ performances at the tournament so far have put them as favourites to go through to the final, but France have a far superior record in recent meetings, picking up nine wins in the last 11 matches.
The two teams have never met at the World Cup before despite playing each other a total of 88 times, with little to choose between them – France have won 42 games while Wales have won 43 with 3 draws.