A voice will be missing on Sunday afternoon on France 2 (4 pm), to comment on France-England, the third and last match of the first day of the Six Nations Tournament 2020. But, unless proven otherwise, it will be for good cause. Casually, it has been thirteen years since Fabien Galthié dissected live on TV the adventures of the XV of France, between iterative counter-performances, even blooper pure and simple (the consumed art of scuttling captive matches …), and embellishments, more and more rare since the curse of this final of World cup 2011 yielded of a point to New Zealand.
True to the job, the talkative consultant delivered relevant analysis, both to laymen and insiders. Because no one has ever dreamed of contesting the legitimacy of the former scrum half, designated best player in the world in 2002, which knew, once the crampons hung up, to make fruit a widened sporting expertise without state of mind in the world Business. Pubs here, conferences there, declining the management of human capital in business, on behalf of the company Capgemini in particular, the timetable of Fabien Galthié (whose carbon footprint must be properly appalling) has always been very busy. No one doubted that one day or another, his CV would include an additional line: coach of the XV of France.
Twice, in 2011 and 2015, where his name already circulated with insistence, the job had escaped him. At 50, the third will therefore be the right one. Appointed before the last World Cup, which had the effect of sowing confusion, especially since Bernard Laporte, president of the FFR, had catapulted him “assistant” from Jacques Brunel, official coach already quite weakened by chess ( and a feeling of contagious resignation), Fabien Galthié had time to refine his speech about taking up the post. And recruit a close guard where there are a dozen recognized technicians, including the ex-manager of Bordeaux, Raphaël Ibañez, Laurent Labit, debauched from Racing 92 (where after joint exploits in Castres, we ended up imagine inseparable from Laurent Travers), or even the former defense manager of Wales, the Englishman Shaun Edwards (whose abstruse French leaves speechless).
Mutique (therefore loyal) in Japan, that France, ex-flagship nation relegated to the rank of outsider, left this fall in the place that was hers (yet another “frustrating” defeat, this time in the quarterfinals, against Wales, after a journey without shame or panache), Galthié has since put on this smiling suit of an outstanding communication man with whom he boils the pot… not without a slight ambiguity that summed up last year, in his own way, Mourad Boudjellal, the president of Toulon: “He would have robots instead of players, that would suit him”, while describing “A sensitive, fragile and cultivated guy”.
On the image side, symbolic provincial relocations have been imagined, from the presentation of the staff on their land, in the Lot, to the preparation of the tournament in Nice, just to counter the prison aspect of the National Rugby Center, in Marcoussis, usual place tricolor gatherings. And the new taulier, in reverse of the scowling mines of his predecessors, took a manifest pleasure in repolining a voluntarist doxa where the “exhilarating mission” (understood: to resuscitate a nation which no longer scares anyone) would be nourished by “pride”, of“emotion” and D’“identification” expected, ultimately, revive a vanished pleasure – “Basically, we are above all children who love to play”.
The operation of seduction of the former player of Colomiers and the French Stadium – which we must not forget that the last two experiences of club coach were blatant failures, with Montpellier then Toulon – also rests on a desire for increased transparency . For a long time, the FFR (French team) and the League (Top 14) maintained ambiguous relations, not to say fratricidal. However, the thirteenth head coach of French rugby (a low figure, due to the fact that until the early 1960s, the group more or less self-managed) insisted on the need for permanent exchange with the clubs, which, in back, he promises apparent loyalty by not trying to block players unnecessarily.
Likewise, Galthié certifies taking the form of the moment as the sole selective criterion, even if the first list of the 42 names summoned – and, in hollow, that of those absent, from Wenceslas Lauret to Yoann Huget – reveals an understandable concern for rejuvenation. troops, in view of the 2023 World Cup, organized in France, where his mandate will also expire.
With twenty novices and an overall average age of 24, we sense that the facelift will require touch-ups and that it would be more reasonable, or just realistic, to consider the 2020 tournament as a laboratory (read opposite). At the start of 2019, a Harris Interactive survey revealed that, despite a confirmed sympathy for rugby, 71% of those polled were unhappy to mention the name of a single member of the France team, and it will probably be a long time before the hoi polloi prints the faces of Anthony Bouthier, Mohamed Haouas or Cameron Woki, among other blue dicks selected Sunday to wipe the plasters. However, the official message assumes the ambition of not wanting to procrastinate: “Win matches and titles very quickly”, to eventually become part of the “World top 3”.
Currently seventh in the world ranking, we can imagine that France would have preferred another opponent than England in appetizers, after only “Six training sessions to transform a team selection”. Minorities in the initial list unveiled by Galthié, the players who participated in the World Cup, however, form the backbone of the starting XV. Where the idea will be to combine technicality, mobility and “ferocity” by capitalizing on the experience garnered by the Charles Ollivons (successor to Guilhem Guirado in the role of captain, despite only 11 selections), Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Bernard Leroux (the only 30-year-old in the band), Damian Penaud, Gaël Fickou or Virimi Vakatawa, who will try to cast doubt on XV de la Rose, vice-world champion.
Whose coach Eddie Jones announces the color: “Our first objective is to beat France in France”, promising in addition to the bizuths of the opposing camp “Physical intensity” like they’ve never known. Like any other to remind that the “crunch”, name given for over a century to the clashes between France and England, translates into “Crackling” but also “Crucial moment”. Already.