What a disappointing weekend for Wales. After their renaissance against Ireland this was supposed to be the occasion where they reaffirmed they were back on track by beating France to finish second or, at worst, third in the Six Nations Championship.
Instead they slipped to a miserable fifth with a strangely disjointed display -- going backwards, literally, instead of moving forward.
It was also the final chance for a number of Welsh players to push forward their claims for a place on the British & Irish Lions Tour in the summer. They too went backwards in most cases.
Forget the bizarre end to the match -- Wales did not deserve to win. If they had managed to hold out it would have been on the back of another extraordinary defensive performance. The tackle count from Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton was remarkable once again and they were probably the only two who enhanced their chances of going to New Zealand.
The most worrying aspect of this Six Nations campaign has been the lack of basic skills shown by the Welsh team and it shows in the lack of tries. Time and again they set up good attacks and exerted enormous pressure by going through numerous phases only for everything to flounder on a poor pass or an even worse bit of decision making.
They have definitely tried to change the game plan this season. The 'Warrenball' power game worked well for a time but had become stale and predictable, as always happens the other nations had sussed it out. The emphasis was therefore on changing the point of attack; more offloading instead of taking the tackle and recycling via a ruck.
That requires accuracy and timing and Wales -- who used to be renowned for their silky skills -- appear to have neglected them to the point where they cannot execute simple passing sequences. It was horribly evident in Edinburgh -- where the Scots gave a marvellous demonstration of slick passing, taking every half chance they had -- but much better against Ireland where it showed in the try count. On Saturday though, Wales were woeful once again.
A three on two in the second half down the left, when a score would have put Wales in the driving seat, soon became a two on two because Jonathan Davies' pass to Leigh Halfpenny was high and too deep so he had to stop to take it. That's just one example, there have been many others in this campaign.
The kicking game also lacks direction, in every sense of the word. I used to be a big fan of Dan Biggar -- still love his commitment in the tackle and his all-round passion -- but his kicking game has drifted towards being aimless, and neither he nor Rhys Webb put France under any pressure at all.
Sadly, at the same time, the receiving skills seem to have disappeared. Every time the ball was hoisted high and contested by both sides, France came away with it. Leigh Halfpenny used to be superb at plucking the ball out of the air, gradually the commitment and timing seems to have disappeared. I can only guess he has stopped working at it on the training field!
It all begs the question: why was Warren Gatland allowed to take a sabbatical to concentrate on the Lions in the season where Wales needed to rebuild and restructure their game? Having re-signed to take Wales through to the next Rugby World Cup I believe Gatland should have been refused permission to take a second Lions' tour.
Once again Rob Howley was given the job of stand in. Many in Wales are now blaming him but it is an unenviable situation. He knows the post is only temporary so does not have a mandate to make big decisions -- keeping the seat warm is always going to mean a conservative approach and Wales need a revamp.
With selection for the Lions looming it is a terrible time for Wales to have gone off the boil. There will be quite a few players who must have started the season expecting to be on the plane who are now sweating.
Halfpenny will be one of them. His goal kicking was back to its absolute best -- a 100% record with three from around the 50-metre mark to keep Wales in it -- but his attacking flair, which used to be such a threat, has all but disappeared. George North looks back to his best but nobody else in the back division did themselves any favours in Paris.
Webb would get my vote -- although he needs to cut out the silly little tug-backs and other petty fouls that can cost points -- because his speed and aggression will be invaluable in New Zealand.
In the forwards, Ken Owens has had a very good season and has put himself into contention whilst Gatland will want the experience of Alun Wyn Jones even though he had a subdued game after taking a bang in Paris. However, I believe they are the only two in with a chance from the front five.
Finally, there will be a huge battle for places in the back row because all the other countries have strong contenders and it will depend on how Gatland decides he wants to play. Ross Moriarty has faded a little after a couple of terrific performances and I would not yet rule out Taulupe Faletau -- fully fit and fresh, his best rugby is probably still to come this season so he could join Warburton and maybe Tipuric.
I do not believe there will be a Welsh captain and the Welsh representation will be way down on the last tour. There could be as few as seven -- it was indeed a very disappointing weekend to finish off a miserable international season.