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Raphael Ibanez, the former hooking great, had changed his tune from 24 hours earlier when he accused Wales of “a childish attack”. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

Raphael Ibanez, the former hooking great, had changed his tune from 24 hours earlier when he accused Wales of “a childish attack”. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Raphael Ibanez, the former hooking great, had changed his tune from 24 hours earlier when he accused Wales of “a childish attack”. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

Never mind 'Le Crunch', this is 'Le Niggle'. It is hard to remember a build-up to a Six Nations encounter in Cardiff that has been so vitriolic, if not downright nasty. Certainly without Eddie Jones involved.

Inevitably, on the eve of the match at the Principality Stadium yesterday, the opposing set-ups tried to row back on the rancour, although as ever in these war of words, a few subtle potshots told the back story.

Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones shrugged his shoulders and reminded he was not party to any of the fun and shames in which first Wyn Jones, the prop, accused the French scrum of being "cheats" and then France coach Fabien Galthie sounding almost like the don of Six Nations in berating the opposition for their "disrespect".

However, the skipper could not resist a dig at Raphael Ibanez after the French team manager went below the belt in questioning whether Dan Biggar should have been selected after three concussions in six months.

"I'm not a doctor," Jones said. "But it's interesting he (Ibanez) says that because Prav (Mathema, the Welsh medical manager) was with Raphael for two years at Wasps, so I'm sure they'll have a conversation regarding that after the game."

For his part, Ibanez, the former hooking great, had changed his tune from 24 hours earlier when he accused Wales of "a childish attack". "We are delighted to come back here to a beautiful stadium," he said, looking as if beurre would not melt in his mouth. "I can't make any comments about what other coaching staff do. We just focus on the game."

France have not won a Six Nations tussle in Cardiff since 2010 and that has plenty to do with Shaun Edwards' influence as Warren Gatland's sergeant major detailed to defence.

Much has been said about France's new defence coach and his emotional return to his adopted homeland . Indeed, Ibanez revealed that he was so concerned by a potential sentimental overload that he spoke to Edwards at the start of the week.

"Shaun is very professional, his reply was pretty clear," he said. "He just said, 'My only focus this week will be to do my best for the players', and that's what he has done, day in, day out. It was proper Shaun Edwards."

Wales have won eight of the past nine collisions between this pair and can throw the championship open with their 13th successive home Six Nations win. Yet while they attempted to pile on the pressure on their baby-faced rivals, there can be no doubt that their new reign is under scrutiny as well. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Wales - L Halfpenny; G North, N Tompkins, H Parkes, J Adams; D Biggar, G Davies; W Jones; K Owens, D Lewis, J Ball, AW Jones (capt), R Moriarty, J Tipuric, T Faletau. Reps: R Elias, R Evans, L Brown, W Rowlands, A Wainwright, T Williams, J Evans, J McNicholl.

France - A Bouthier, T Thomas, V Vakatawa, A Vincent, G Fickou, R Ntamack, A Dupont; C Baille, J Marchand, M Haouas, B le Roux, P Willemse, F Cros, C Ollivon (capt), G Alldritt. Reps: C Chat, JB Gros, D Bamba, R Taofifenua, D Cretin, B Serin, M Jalibert, Thomas Ramos

Wales v France,

Live, Virgin Media 1/BBC1, 4.45

Telegraph.co.uk