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Saturday, March 6, 1999 Published at 19:55 GMT

Wales break Paris hoodoo

Colin Charvis touches down for the opening try

France 33-34 Wales

Wales are celebrating a momentous victory, their first win in Paris for 24 years.

BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Report heralds the final whistle
They scraped home by one point, but endured an agonising end as French kicking machine Thomas Castagneide floated a last-gasp penalty across the face of the posts, missing a chance to clinch the match.

Welsh captain Rob Howley toasted his men and said: "It doesn't get any better than this. This is the best moment of my career."

Graham Henry, Neil Jenkins and Robert Howley give their reactions
He dedicated the victory, in which Colin Charvis, David James and Craig Quinnell scored brilliant first-half tries, to Kiwi coach Graham Henry.

"It's nice to see the players repay a quality coach. Today you saw a game deserving of Graham Henry's coaching abilities."

Wales matched the Gallic flair of full-back Emile Ntamack, who scored a hat-trick of tries, and fly-half Thomas Castaignede, who got France's fourth touchdown, at every stage.

[ image: Neil Jenkins: The man with the golden boot]
Neil Jenkins: The man with the golden boot
"We had the basics right, our ball retention was spot on," said Howley of a side which had lost its two opening Championship games against Scotland and Ireland.

"The way we want to play is a big ask on our forwards. But I've got to take my hat off to them. From one to eight the way they played today was great to see."

Henry, who was embraced by all his players at the final whistle at the Stade de France, also admitted it was the greatest moment of his career.

"It was a marvellous occasion," said Henry. "The only other occasion I've been involved in like that was Natal v Auckland Blues in the first year of the Super 12.

[ image: Hat-trick hero Emile N'tamack]
Hat-trick hero Emile N'tamack
"And even that paled into insignificance compared to this. This is definitely the biggest and most satisfying occasion I've ever been involved with.

"I told them to be bold and keep being bold. Being bold wins rugby matches, being shy doesn't.

"Today the guys played real rugby, they kept the ball, never handing it over as we had done in previous games until we ran out of steam a bit.

"The players enjoy playing that sort of rugby. They kept the ball in hand, took the opposition on and that's what the game is about."

BBC Radio 5 Live's David Parry Jones reports
But Henry warned that there was much work to be done before Wales, still contenders for the wooden spoon, can take on the world's best consistently.

"We are nowhere near the level we need to be really competitive," he said.

"Our fitness levels are not high enough. But let's not be negative, this was a positive day for Welsh rugby.

[ image: The game was an end-to-end battle]
The game was an end-to-end battle
French coach Jean-Claude Skrela, while denying the pressure of an unprecedented third Grand Slam had got to his team, paid the ultimate tribute to the Welsh.

"One could say that today we saw the All Blacks playing in red jerseys. I think that the Welsh played rugby as it should be played nowadays," Skrela said.

"We have always said we were taking things one match at a time - and we always knew that the Five Nations would be difficult this year."

Wales took the game to the French from early on and led 28-18 at halftime. The victory was earned through tries from Colin Charvis, Dafydd James and Craig Quinnell and five penalties and two conversions from flyhalf Neil Jenkins.

French full-back Emile Ntamack scored a hat-trick of tries for the French and fly-half Thomas Castaignede had a brilliant game, scoring the fourth try and kicking three penalties and two conversions.

But Castagneide missed a penalty in the last few seconds which would have sealed the match and the French left the field bitterly disappointed.


France: E Ntamack, Bernat-Salles, Dourthe, Comba, Lombard, Castaignede, Carbonneau, Califano, Ibanez, Tournaire, Brouzet, Pelous, Benetton, Raynaud, Lievremont.

Replacements: Laussucq, Aucagne, Garbajosa, Auradou, Marconnet, M Dal Maso, Castel.

Wales: Howarth, Robinson, Taylor, Gibbs, James, N Jenkins, Howley, Rogers, G Jenkins, Evans, C Quinnell, Wyatt, Charvis, Sinkinson, S Quinnell.

Replacements: Morgan, Thomas, Llewellyn, Voyle, Lewis,

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