Six Nations 2015: Jamie Roberts: I'm in charge of the night out in Paris – so we had better win...

A few things have been said about my future in Paris but nothing has been decided

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It would definitely be pushing it to call the Test in Paris today a home match for me but the French capital has certainly become home. There’s a familiarity to playing there, not quite like at the Millennium Stadium but it’s a city I’ve grown accustomed to in the past two seasons.

As for the Stade de France, that’s a place that has resonated with me for some time.

I may have only been 11 years old at the time, but I remember vividly sitting at home watching the 1998 football World Cup, particularly Les Bleus winning the final inside the stadium that was built specifically for that tournament.

Thankfully, in a rugby sense the script has been somewhat different in recent seasons, with France coming unstuck against us in our past three encounters.

As for personal visits to the cauldron that is the Stade de France, it’s only been for rugby. The last time was two years ago, when we turned up off the back of eight or nine defeats, most recently in our Six Nations opener against Ireland.


We had our backs to the wall and the pressure was on to deliver. I remember it more so because it was my 50th cap, which was obviously a very special day and it was a physical and brutal game where we played ugly at times just to scrape out the win we’d previously been starved of.

Similarly, the game against Scotland two weekends ago was a vital one to win and we just about scrambled over the line with our noses in front. As much as it’s disappointing to lose at home, it’s huge to win away too.

It’s an interesting study in our psyche but time and time again it seems that as a team we perform at our best when the pressure’s on us – and the pressure remains unabated this weekend. Both sides have won one and lost one and both sides believe the championship remains attainable.

I should have a good turnout of family and friends there. Mum and Dad went over there a good few days ago to make a long weekend of it and we managed to grab a coffee on the Champs-Élysées on the Friday, which has become a bit of a Roberts family routine.

And there’ll be mates in the stands watching as well, which is pretty cool. Plus, I think unofficially myself and Mike Phillips, who also plays for Racing Métro, will be in charge of the night out in Paris afterwards. But it won’t be much of a night out if we don’t go out there and win the game.

As a temporary Parisian, approaching this game feels different. It’s a chance to go back to my home city, as it were, and hopefully put on a show.

I know a few things have been said about my future in Paris with Racing but the reality is nothing has been decided. I have two jobs at the moment: one for Racing and one more pressing this weekend against France. I need to focus on those.

The latter task brings me up against some of my Racing team-mates, namely full-back Brice Dulin and flanker Bernard le Roux, with whom I’m particularly good mates.

In the centres, I think Jon Davies and I had expected to come up against Mathieu Bastareaud and, with him being on the bench, inevitably we’ll have the opportunity to do so at some point.

Roberts' centre partner Jonathan Davies (Getty Images)

I’ve played against Bastareaud a lot of times at club and country level and he’s got such a low centre of gravity, plus he’s big all over, so it’s difficult to bring him down around the midriff. The rule of thumb tends to be go low against him.

Much has been made of the fact that France may lack some physicality without him in the starting line-up but Wesley Fofana and Rémi Lamerat are hardly diminutive, are they?

As for our side, we welcome back George North and Liam Williams keeps his place, which is deserved with the way he played against Scotland.

Alex Cuthbert was obviously disappointed to miss out – for all of 10 minutes. After that he was very clear in his goal in training – to win his place back in the side.

His first two seasons in professional rugby have gone fantastically well for him and this is no more than a short descent on a roller coaster for him. I’m sure he’ll bounce back from this.

Regardless of the personnel, we go into this game in the knowledge that the Scotland game wasn’t perfect and there’s still a lot more to do. But we have the same mindset from Murrayfield in Paris – that you can still win the tournament after losing one game.

History’s on our side against France. Hopefully, we can make it four wins against them on the trot.

George and Sam are proud Welsh history-makers

This match marks a half-century for George North if you combine his 47 Wales appearances with his three British & Irish Lions caps.

The fact he’s not yet 23 is frankly a bit frightening. I remember his debut as an 18-year-old against South Africa and he was a phenomenal athlete even then.

He’s a very special player but what’s even more frightening is that he’s still got a lot to learn. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but the guy’s just a freak!

As for Sam Warburton, he equals Ryan Jones’ record of 33 appearances as Wales captain. I don’t think he’s changed massively from the first time.

He’s very much his own man and his style of leadership is to do his talking on the pitch. He’s played well in the opening two games and I’m pleased he’s equalled Ryan’s mark. Mind you, he’s got some way to go before he gets to Richie McCaw’s record!

Roger can bow out on a real high with the World Cup

From a player’s point of view, Roger Lewis’ decision to step down as chief executive of the Wales Rugby Union was a big surprise.

You just have to look at what he’s achieved and what the team’s achieved during his time to give you an idea of how important he’s been for Welsh rugby. That’s pretty special, so he deserves to take a lot of credit.

I’m sure he’d like to go out on a big high with the World Cup, as he’s always taken a huge interest in what we’re doing and still does.

I know there’s been some conjecture about Warren Gatland as a result. As a player, I can’t really comment on that – it’s a case of what will be will be.

Warren’s been huge in the success that we’ve had but as players all we can do is carry on playing well for club and country. As far as coaches go, those decisions are taken way above our heads.

Gethin’s my man of the tournament up to now

If I were to pick a player of the Six Nations tournament so far, I’m not sure I’d look far past the Wales camp. In terms of their high levels of consistency, Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny have been as good as ever.

But Gethin Jenkins stands out for me. He’s played very well in his last few games in a Wales jersey and, without being rude, for a guy of his age, 34, in such a physically demanding position on the pitch, that’s very impressive. He’s still got it.

As for the best try of the tournament, I’m sure we’ve got a few more to  come, but Jonathan Joseph’s efforts for England against Italy caught my eye. He’s a special talent.