Agony. Absolute agony for Wales.
Ecstasy. Absolute ecstasy for France.
Madness. Absolute madness that game.
That ending was the most heart-breaking tableau imaginable for the Welsh.
France broke Wales’ hearts with a last-gasp try to win and deny the visitors a Grand Slam
France full-back Brice Dulin scored a dramatic 82nd minute try when his side were down to 14
Hang it in the Louvre if you are French. Picture it if you can bear, if you are reading through daffodil-tinted spectacles.
Wales are three points up playing with 13 men – Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams entering the sin-bin within two minutes of each other – against the 14 of France, Paul Willemse shamefully sent off for making contact with Wyn Jones’ eye.
Wayne Pivac’s men are one French mistake from an extraordinary fifth Grand Slam, the clock ticking away well past 80.
France have it after Cory Hill sealed off a ruck illegally with the Welsh trying to wind down.
And suddenly, after the most pulsating night of your life, it is pandemonium.
France have a Hail Mary shot, Wales the rosary beads out. It goes wide to the left, there are so many numbers over for Les Bleus.
It’s Gael Fickou, it’s Arthur Vincet, it’s Brice Dulin! Tomos Williams tries a desperate flail for the ball tucked under the French full-back’s arms, but he is nowhere near it. It is done. Dulin has scored.
The drama means France now could win the Six Nations title against Scotland next week
Wales’ Grand Slam dream is over, as is one of the greatest Six Nations matches ever played.
‘It’s a swimming pool of happiness,’ said triumphant French boss Fabien Galthie after.
‘Character – can it be measured? I am not surprised by the team’s character. They tapped into their deepest reserves tonight.
‘Somehow Wales stopped boxing in the 12th round but we kept fighting.’
Wales were left strewn across Paris – you would forgive a few tears close to their eyes after that.
They can still win the title if France do not manage to beat Scotland well enough on Friday, but that was last from their thoughts as they saw a Grand Slam slip from their fingertips in the last possible second.
‘It’s quite a numb feeling, really,’ said Pivac.
‘The boys put in such a fantastic effort.
Paul Willemse was sent off for making contact with Alun Wyn Jones’ eye with 13 minutes left
‘It was just desperately frustrating and the players, obviously, got so close and yet so far. It was quite chaotic.
‘We have to be proud of the performance, proud of the effort they’ve put in throughout the Championship.’
How the game made it to that stunning conclusion is worth documenting for the ages.
With a Welsh Grand Slam and French title on the line the stage was set for a belter, and how the first half delivered. Forget the caginess and brutality of a Cup Final – the sides got their paints out and started on a masterpiece.
‘Greatness’ was the word painted in English across the French turf, straddling the half-way line. If Wales were to seal a Grand Slam it would be for them – but it ended up summing up the bonkers contest.
Just 18 minutes in we had four tries. It was glorious, and all credit to both teams for producing it in the flattest of Stade de France atmospheres with nobody in.
First Romain Taofifenua touched down just before Ken Owens and Taulupe Faletau could reach the ball in his paw.
Romain Taofifenua opened the scoring for France as the hosts raced into an early 7-0 lead
But Wales fought back and Dan Biggar caught out the French defence to score a try
Wales roared back, Louis Rees-Zammit almost providing Gareth Davies a try after cutting through on savagely good line from a scrum, but the scrum-half was held up.
No matter, next Dan Biggar came in on a devastating angle to catch Davies’ pass to score.
Next breath France had their second. Pure poetry. Brice Dulin chipped, Matthieu Jalibert caught, Antoine Dupont took his pop and ran it in. Magnifique.
They call the scrum-half ‘The Bull from Toulouse’ and faced with a line a red before him he went about snorting and kicking his way through right from the start.
Wales’ next try came soon – an incredible multi-phase drive involving every player, ending with Josh Navidi piling over with the help of Owens on the latch. With Biggar’s conversion we were level again.
A penalty for him and replacement Romain Ntamack saw the half end at 17-all. Breathless, wonderful stuff that surely could not be sustained.
France’s scrum half Antoine Dupont showed his class with an excellent score over the line
Stuff that, it became more dramatic. After a Biggar penalty Tipuric took the mickey next, so dripping with talent his grubber kick squirted around the French 22, Josh Adams scooped it up after it had hit Tomos Williams and the wing scored.
Wayne Barnes the TMO’s had a long look at it – the decision from Luke Pearce on-field was that Adams had grounded it – and Barnes could find no evidence he had not, so it was given.
It was an enormous decision to make, with little to show Adams had it down, but with Biggar’s conversion the Welsh were 10 points up with half an hour left.
They were not to know, but every second was sticking Welsh heads closer to the guillotine.
An Ntamack penalty had France within seven; then Rees-Zammit almost scored the try of his life, leaping into the corner and touching down one-handed, but the ball was grounded on the post-protector. It was millimetres.
But the hosts were once again hauled back by Wales, who levelled through Josh Navidi
Nevertheless, Mohamed Haouas was sin-binned for bringing down a maul before, Pearce came back for the penalty and Biggar kicked it to put Wales in command, 10 points up again.
Surely the Slam experts would see this out. You were certain they would, especially when Pearce reached for red.
Dulin had scored on the left, but wait – on review Willemse had ripped Wyn Jones out of a ruck, his fingers delving into the prop’s eye as he cleared him out.
Another red in Wales’ favour to follow Peter O’Mahony and Zander Fagerson.
But their discipline crumbled. Faletau and Liam Williams were sin-binned, Charles Ollivon scored before that incredible final passage saw Dulin dance in and Wales’ crown slip.
Josh Adams then plunged over the line and there was no TMO evidence to reverse the decision
Alun Wyn Jones was ultimately denied the chance to win a fourth Grand Slam for his side