Wales coach Wayne Pivac spoke for the nation when he said he was stunned as midnight approached in Paris on Saturday.

Their hopes of winning the Grand Slam have just been dashed in the most difficult of circumstances as Wales lose to France in the closing stages of the match like no other country in Six Nations history.

Wales led 30-20 after 72 minutes and were on the verge of winning their second Grand Slam title in three seasons. It transformed a team that had won just once in this league last year.

But those efforts are undone in a chaotic ending.

Firstly discipline, as Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams received the first yellow cards of the six Welsh teams, leaving them with 13 men.

France then stepped up a gear, scoring first through captain Charles Ollivon and then in injury time through Brice Doolin in the most dramatic of French victories, sending Wales’ dreams of a first Grand Slam on foreign soil since 1971 up the drain.

Wales’ players collapsed onto the pitch in despair, the silence of the empty Stade de France broken by the shouts of the jubilant opponents.

Pivak said it was a pretty numbing feeling.

The boys put in a fantastic performance. At this point, the players have confused us. At that point we were down 15-5, I think it was a penalty.

We were on our last warning and we lost two players, so it was very difficult to defend at that point, 13-14.

The boys put in a great performance and withstood a number of goal attempts by the French, including several in the closing minutes.

But there were too many.

That was the strongest feeling for Wales after a blistering encounter with one of the most attacking teams in the world.

It also seemed an apt summary of Wales’ championship, which they started with almost no expectations.

Pivak lost seven of their first 10 Tests last year and Wales suffered their worst Six Nations Test since 2007.

So it was surprising to see them beat Ireland in their first game of the year, and even more surprising to see them beat Scotland a week later.

After a stunning win over England and a victory over Italy, the performance improved and Wales suddenly found themselves on the brink of their fifth Grand Slam in 16 years.

They lifted their game to another level in Paris and played with the pace and attacking spirit many were hoping for when Wales appointed Pivac.

It’s desperately frustrating and the players were so close and yet so far apart, the New Zealander added.

It’s a difficult time for them, but we can be proud of the achievement, proud of the commitment we showed during the championship.

France could overtake Wales to win the title when they take on Scotland on Friday.

Pivak was surprisingly calm, considering the chaos he had just participated in.

But after being so close, it was hard not to wonder what could have happened.

The fact that we were ahead 27-20 with 20 minutes to go was a big moment for us, Pivak said.

We had a fantastic action and there was a yellow card and I was expecting something more than a yellow card, maybe a penalty, but it wasn’t given.

It was disappointing, because at 34-20, I think it’s probably a championship and maybe a grand slam.

Either way, the opportunity is gone – but not all is lost.

If Wales wake up on Sunday morning with sore and emotionally drained bodies, they can at least console themselves with the knowledge that they can still win the Six Nations Championship.

The celebrations in France were particularly effusive as the bonus win kept their own title aspirations alive.

Les Bleus must now beat Scotland by a bonus point and a points difference of at least 21 in Friday’s rescheduled final to become champions.

I hope not, laughed Pivak when asked about France’s chances of leading Wales to the title.

Look, this is difficult. They are a very good French team, as you saw today.

When we got into a position where we should have kicked, they kept coming. They have a lot of big men and they play a lot of ball.

They are a quality team, especially at home, and it will not be easy for Scotland to come here and win the game.

But we look ahead and wait to see what happens.

 

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