It was mild this Wednesday on the grounds of Marcoussis. But the Blues hardly took advantage of the setting of this late autumn afternoon. When they stepped onto the lawn after dark for the day’s practice, they were drunk.
The staff had concocted the big meeting for them. Under the eyes of Fabien Galthié wearing his big glasses, the XV of France has therefore worked hard “We do big training with contacts, not for 80 minutes but with great intensity. With training like this, we are in top form, ”said second row Paul Willemse, dripping with sweat.
A XV of France which for a few hours still bears its name badly because there are still 31 players gathered in Marcoussis to prepare for their entry into the Autumn Nations Cup, this Sunday against Scotland. This Friday morning, when it is time to take off for Edinburgh, they will be down to 23. The staff by then will have made choices.
Forget the defeat of spring
It was against Scotland that the French before the first confinement conceded their only defeat (28-17) of this unparalleled year. So as not to experience the same mishap on Sunday, they therefore worked hard: “We worked on what we could do there in the spring but, in any case, we do not make scenarios”, insists the rear Thomas Ramos.
The staff thus tried to put in difficulty the XV of France during an opposition where he evolved a lot in numerical inferiority, as for nearly an hour at Murrayfield in March: “We made a focus on the discipline in the areas of confrontation, to test our ability to adapt, ”said manager Raphaël Ibanez. “Before talking about revenge against Scotland in relation to the game at the start of the year, it is above all a rugby game. We are going there to win and finish first in our group, ”continues the Rochelais Grégory Alldritt.
This high-intensity session gave indications of the XV that could start in Scotland. It could start with a Gros-Chat-Bamba first line. Dylan Cretin in the third row and Matthieu Jalibert at the opening should also start to replace Toulouse’s François Cros (foot) and Romain Ntamack (thigh), injured. Thomas Ramos could start at the back in place of Anthony Bouthier, who was absent for six weeks due to a sprained internal ligament in his left knee.
No doubt about Virimi Vakatawa who should also start: “I feel good in this group. There is a good atmosphere, good guys, good players. We work hard in training. I continue to work but the team is the most important. I want to continue working for my teammates ”thinks the Racingman. Coach Fabien Galthié and manager Raphaël Ibanez will announce the starting XV against Scotland this Friday.