Star man: Ryan Jones

– Wales and France have met in 88 Test matches with Wales leading the head-to-head 43 to 42. There have been three draws.

– France also played two matches against a Wales XV in the 1940s with the teams winning one match each.

– The teams have never met at the Rugby World Cup.

– The only match between the two held at a neutral venue was the 1998 Five Nations match which was held at Wembley owing to the construction of Millennium Stadium. This match was technically a Wales home match.

– Of the 88 Tests between these nations, only four have been played in the second half of the year, outside the Five/Six Nations. All four of those matches have been played in Cardiff in the last 20 years and France have won three of the four by an average of almost 16 points.

– France have won 10 of the past 13 match-ups. Their best winning streak during that period is three matches, which they have achieved three times and is also their current streak against the Welsh.

– The last time France won more than three consecutive matches against the Welsh was a 12-match winning streak from 1983 to 1994.

– The team scoring the most tries has won nine of the past 13 matches between these two teams. Three of the remaining four matches saw the teams score the same number of tries and in all three cases the team scoring the most penalties won the match. France’s win in the 2007 Six Nations match was the only time in that period that one team scored less tries than the other and won the match.

– The team leading at half-time has won five of the past six matches. The 2009 Six Nations match was 13-all at half time.

– Eleven of France’s starting line-up played in Les Bleus’ last match against Wales, a 28-9 win in this year’s Six Nations. Ten of the 11 started that match. The four players who did not play in March are loosehead prop Jean-Baptiste Poux, scrum half Dimitri Yachvili and centres Maxime Mermoz and Aurélien Rougerie.

– Ten of Wales’ starting line-up played in the 2011 Six Nations match against France. The five who missed that match but will play on Saturday are Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett, Luke Charteris, Toby Faletau and Shane Williams. Four other replacements for Saturday were involved in the match, with Paul James, Bradley Davies and Ryan Jones starting and Stephen Jones coming on from the bench.


– Fourth in the IRB World Rankings, equalling their highest ranking, which they last held in February 2009.

– Have won their last four RWC matches, which equals their best streak, recorded when they won their first four RWC 1987 matches before losing their semi-final to New Zealand.

– Wales’ last five-match winning streak in all Tests was their Six Nations Grand Slam in 2008.

– Only two of Wales’ 12 RWC defeats have been against northern hemisphere opposition; 23-24 to Ireland in 1995 and 17-28 to England eight years ago, a match in which Wales outscored England three to one on tries.

– Have won 13 of their 20 RWC matches played in the southern hemisphere. Their northern hemisphere RWC record is five wins and six defeats.

– Are the second team to reach a RWC semi-final after failing to progress past the pool phase at the previous edition. Argentina, in 2007, were the first team to do so.

– Have used only 22 of their 35 named replacements through their five matches at RWC 2011, significantly less than the other three semi-finalists. Australia have left only five players on the bench through their five matches, France only one and New Zealand have used all seven replacements in all of their RWC 2011 matches.

– Were the only team to score more than two tries in the RWC 2011 quarter-finals.

– Won 12 of their opponents’ lineouts during the pool phase of RWC 2011. Only Ireland (14) and Samoa (13) won more. They won another three opposition lineouts in their quarter-final against Ireland. Only South Africa (five) won more.


– Fifth in the IRB World Rankings having regained the three places they lost after their defeat to Tonga with their win against England in the quarter-finals.

– Are in the RWC semi-finals for a sixth time in seven editions, a record they share with New Zealand.

– Are the first team to reach the RWC semi-finals after two defeats in the pool phase.

– Are in a fifth successive RWC semi-final, equalling the record set by New Zealand from 1987 to 2003 and ended by France in 2007.

– Have lost three RWC semi-finals, equal with New Zealand who are the only other team to have lost more than one.

– Of the eight RWC 2011 quarter-finalists, only Argentina (100 points, 11 tries) scored fewer points and tries than France (143 points, 15 tries). The other three semi-finalists are the top three points and try scoring teams at RWC 2011.

– France kept England scoreless in the first half of their quarter-final. It was the second time they had kept their opponents scoreless in the first half of an RWC knockout match. Only Australia (three times) have achieved this more often.

– Have waited 12 years since their last Rugby World Cup final appearance. They also waited 12 years between the first two (1987, 1999).

The venue

– Eden Park will host 11 matches at RWC 2011. It has already hosted two Pool A matches, one match in each of the other three pools and two quarter-finals. It will also host both semi-finals, the bronze final and final.

– This match is Eden Park’s 13th RWC match, equalling the record held by Murrayfield.

– Wales have played two Tests at Eden Park, both against the All Blacks. They lost 33-12 in 1969 and 54-9 in 1988.

– France have played 12 Tests at Eden Park, winning five of them, including two against the All Blacks. Their 42 per cent win rate at the ground is the best of any nation other than New Zealand.

– France have played five RWC matches at the venue. In 1987 they won a pool match against Zimbabwe and a quarter-final against Fiji and lost the final against New Zealand. In 2011 they lost their pool match against New Zealand and won their quarter-final against England.

– France were the last team to beat New Zealand at Eden Park, in July 1994.

The line-ups

– Wales have made one change to the line-up that beat Ireland for this semi-final. James Hook replaces the injured Rhys Priestland at fly half.

– Hook has won 12 of the 17 matches he has started for Wales at fly half. His last loss was this year’s Six Nations match against France. His last loss before that was against South Africa in 2007.

– Gethin Jenkins will play his 14th RWC match to equal the Wales record held by Gareth Thomas.

– The 625 caps among the Wales starting XV is their third highest for a RWC match. Only their 728 caps against Australia at RWC 2007 and 665 against Fiji also in 2007 were higher. Wales lost both those matches.

– Sam Warburton is the only captain in the semi-finals to have led his team in all five of their RWC 2011 matches.

– At 23 years and 10 days old, Warburton is the youngest captain to lead a side in a RWC semi-final, breaking the record set by New Zealand’s Taine Randell in their 1999 semi-final, also against France.

– George North, at 19 years and 165 days, becomes the youngest player to play in a RWC semi-final. Fellow Welshman Dai Young, at 19 years and 323 days, was the only other teenager to do so when he played in the 1987 semi-final against New Zealand.

– Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau start their sixth match of the tournament, the only Wales players to do so.

– Jonathan Davies has scored a try in his last three RWC matches. Sonny Parker set the Wales record when he scored in four consecutive RWC matches across the 2003 and 2007 editions and Shane Williams equalled this at RWC 2007. The RWC record for scoring tries in consecutive matches is five, held by Alan Whetton (NZL) in 1987 and Jonah Lomu (NZL) in 1999.

– Shane Williams, Wales’ top try scorer and the third highest in Test history, has scored only two tries against France in his nine Tests against Les Bleus. That is his equal-lowest return against a Six Nations team.

– France have named their first unchanged starting line-up of RWC 2011.

– It is their sixth unchanged starting line-up in RWC history. Four of their previous five unchanged line-ups were also for knockout matches and all four resulted in defeats – three of them by at least 17 points.

– The 687 caps among France’s starting XV is their most since the RWC 2007 semi-final defeat to England and their fourth most capped line-up ever.

– At an average age of 29 years and 305 days, this is France’s second-oldest RWC line-up. Only the team that faced Argentina in the pool phase of RWC 2007 was older at 30 years and 288 days.

– Imanol Harinordoquy becomes the fifth France player to play in three RWC semi-finals and the ninth player from all teams. He is the only player left at RWC 2011 to have played in two previous World Cup semi-finals.

– Vincent Clerc’s six tries at RWC 2011 is equal-most with England’s Chris Ashton. His record of 11 RWC tries is third to New Zealand duo Jonah Lomu (15) and Doug Howlett (13) on the all-time list.

– Clerc is also one of only five players to have played every minute of his team’s five RWC 2011 matches. Three of the other four are also still in the tournament – New Zealand’s Jerome Kaino, and Australian pair Quade Cooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper. England’s Ashton is the only one of the quintet to have lost in the quarter-finals.

– Jean-Baptiste Poux and Aurélien Rougerie will play their 16th RWC matches, equalling Fabien Pelous. Raphaël Ibañez is the only France player with more RWC matches, having played in 18.