The XV of France has not yet finished its year 2020, but its major players are. Winners of Scotland on his home ground (15-22) for the first time in six years, the Dupont, Ollivon or Vakatawa will not play the last two matches of the Autumn Nations Cup, agreement between the French Federation and the National Rugby League requires. But the typical team of the Blues made up of Fabien Galthié and Raphaël Ibañez have successfully completed their first year together.
Confidence sets in
A single defeat, in Scotland in the Six Nations Tournament in March, for six successes: the years when the Blues investigated the setbacks – eight out of eleven games in 2018 to measure the gap – seem far away. By dominating Ireland, England and Wales twice in 2020, the XV of France will be based on success rather than on the famous “encouraging defeats”, a poultice of the teams next to their pumps.
“We left with a new project, a new team, a new staff. We went quickly, ”says Fabien Galthié. “They did everything in the first year to gain the confidence of their supporters, which remains the ultimate goal,” said the former opening half of the Blues, Christophe Lamaison. Beyond the results, the new staff has laid a foundation. On the pitch, the team exudes rigor in every situation, as we have seen in Scotland. “
Their names are starting to settle in the minds of very occasional followers of the XV of France. The Dupont-Ntamack hinge, the new captain Charles Ollivon, his accomplice in the third line Grégory Alldritt, not to mention Gaël Fickou or Bernard Le Roux: the staff of the Blues has installed executives who chain meetings and continue to take common international experience by view of the 2023 World Cup in France.
“This generation is appropriating the jersey, and that’s very positive, salutes the former third row Olivier Magne. A hinge is needed, the first line responds present and we must also underline the contribution of a Vakatawa (Editor’s note: author of the only French essay in Scotland) in each match. Boys become steadfast, and that’s always a good sign for a team. “” Beyond the players who stay in place because they win, you also have substitutes who give satisfaction and a nice pool of tricolors in the Top 14, loose Lamaison. Today, you have about sixty guys who revolve around this team. “
Other tests to come
The executives will now meet early next year to prepare for a less favorable Six Nations Tournament in odd-numbered years. The Blues will have three trips to the program, against two this year, including trips to Ireland and England, where the French have not won since 2011 and 2007 respectively. And should also rub shoulders with nations of the southern hemisphere , except new health constraints.
“When I am told that Antoine Dupont is today the best in the world at his post, I say that we must not get carried away, loose Christophe Lamaison. We have to put performance into perspective and wait for it to last over time. “This team must show that it can win among the very best,” continued Magne. But the dynamic is there, and the confidence with it. We will have to build around that. “