During his press conference this Thursday in Rome, Fabien Gathié spoke about his team composition, the problem of indiscipline of the Blues and the formidable team of Ireland.
A renewed starting XV
“We have renewed the same team for several reasons. First the performance, since we won with the bonus, but also the consistency, because we’ve been working with this starting XV for three weeks, and also the collective experience in training and the search for the ‘homogeneity. At our level, we have little time. We have confidence in this group of players, who have been advancing together for three years. It seems to us our best team in France, for the 32nd match of our adventure. »
Two changes on the bench
“These two players have the collective experience, a common experience. Francois Cros? There is no need to introduce him, he was a Grand Slam, on the Tour. He has a great knowledge of the team, of the international level, he is very important in our group. Baptiste Couilloud? He also has an important experience with us, a collective experience, he is in good shape. I have a thought for the two players who leave without having played, Thomas Lavault and Nolann Le Garrec. They wasted no time, they are young players, who count in French rugby and who will count in the future. »
“We came to Rome with an excellent level of performance in terms of indiscipline, we are the second nation in the world in terms of penalties conceded behind Italy. On Sunday, we doubled our average penalties per game. It’s interesting to understand what happened. This is an area we worked on for three days in Capbreton. We had prepared the players for another form of refereeing. If we look back, in our first match of the Tournament we are still at 15-17 penalties, then in the second we divide by two and we stay around 9 then. Without panicking, we worked on this point of improvement. It’s not a weak point. Discipline is still a strong point for us to this day. This is a major issue, which we are working on. We are preparing for the arbitration of Mr. Barnes who is a great referee, and his two touch judges. Our methodology is to work on the strengths, so if we had won with less indiscipline, we would have worked on this point anyway. »
“This is our first peak of the year. It’s the best team in the world at the moment. They passed us in the standings this summer, and they hold their rank. Andy Farrell took over from Joe Schmidt (after the 2019 World Cup, editor’s note) and was able to rely on Irish strengths, namely a millimeter offensive game, signed Leinster and Jonathan Sexton. There are nine Leinster players in the starting XV, who bring a remarkable attacking leg. Ireland have marvelous players, they are a talented team, with a regular supply. The team has remained strong since the start of Schmidt’s tenure. It is remarkable, magnificent, one can only be in awe. »