Former Wales international Jonathan Davies believes the lack of a home crowd benefits France as fans “can’t boo their own players now” in their crucial Six Nations clash against Wales this weekend.
The Six Nations has been wildly unpredictable so far, with unfavoured Wales currently in top spot and able win the Grand Slam if they defeat France.
Davies – who will feature on BBC’s coverage of France v Wales live from Paris on Saturday evening – thinks that, while most away sides have benefitted from the lack of crowds, it may go against Wales in this one as the French locals can’t “get on their [own team’s] backs”.
Of the 11 games so far in 2021, there have been seven away wins to four home wins.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Davies said: “Look at all the rest of the home crowds, of the other sides, I think that is true – that you’d have home advantage with crowds. That’s been diluted without the crowds.
“With France, I’m not sure because ,with France, you go in there and they’re always gonna give you a chance – their lack of discipline or they’ll do something stupid or a stupid pass – which will then infuriate the spectators, and then the spectators get on their backs. That helps you as an away side.
“On this occasion I think it might help France having no crowd there as they can’t boo their own players now, which has got to be quite off-putting.
“I think on this occasion, it might help France not to worry about the crowd.”
But when it comes to sheer quality, can Wales do it? Are Davies’ beloved team capable of recording a Grand Slam victory against all the pre-tournament expectations?
“I think Wales are capable of winning in Paris. They’ve got confidence, they’ve got the game to do it.
“I do believe that France start as favourites and, if they play well, I think France will win. But I do think Wales are well capable of going there and beating France, without a shadow of a doubt, and that’s what makes it intriguing.
“I think Wales have got to have parity in the forwards. If Wales have parity, then it’s anyone’s game.
“If France get the upper hand on the scrums, especially the scrums at the line it’s gonna be a big test, but I think if you get the set pieces right, it all comes down to the decision-making and the game management.
“And Wales have coped adequately with that. I still think France start as favourites but it’s going to be a fascinating encounter.”