Wales began their Rugby Women’s World Cup campaign beaten but unbowed after France run out 26-0 victor’s in Marcoussis in front of a partisan crowd.
Rachel Taylor’s side put in a gutsy defensive display but ultimately France’s clinical ability to score when chances offered themselves proved Wales’ downfall.
The hosts scored four tries in all, their bonus point victory moving them top of Pool C.
At times in the first half Wales kept the home crowd subdued with a display full of purpose and endeavour. Wales actually had the better of the opening exchanges but once wing Marion Lievre plucked a pass from fly half Elinor Snowsill out of the air to race 50m to score, France were a different proposition.
The French driving maul was a constant threat but Wales countered with some plucky defence but the hosts were not to be deterred and crossed twice more through Shannon Izar and Lievre who collected her second of the evening. With Sandrine Agricole converting two of the three tries, France held a comfortable 19-0 lead at the break which didn’t do justice to the effort put in by Wales.
France, one of the favourites for the tournament, found Wales a tough nut to crack in the second half but sealed the win late on when replacement Elodie Poublan pounced to secure the bonus point win.
Wales head coach Rhys Edwards admitted the defeat was a tough one to take.
“I have to say I am more than pleased in how we coped with the environment and more so how we dictated the majority if the game.
“The defeat is a tough one to take considering how dominant we were but we couldn’t get the scoreboard ticking over.
“To concede an interception try after being so dominant took the wind from our sails and gave them a bit of a heads up. A team like France, even though they were on the back foot for the majority of the time, are a class outfit on the front foot and any opportunity they got they executed and took the two tries really well in the first spell.
“After halftime our defence kept us in the game at times but to concede a late try is a bitter pill. Some of the girls have played their best games in a Welsh shirt so that at this point of the tournament is a very pleasing position to be in.
“We knew it was going to be tough, it’s a shame it wasn’t closer but all in all we asked for a performance and at times we had that so the girls have laid the foundations to go into the next game and kick on and get the result they deserve.”
Wales’ next game is against Australia who had a comfortable win over South Africa earlier in the day.
France scorers: Tries: Lievre 2, Izar, Poublan; Cons: Agricole 2, Le Duff