XV of France: 80 minutes to dream
To finish beautifully. The XV of France can still retain its title in the Six Nations Tournament by outclassing Wales while counting on an Irish misstep in England on Saturday, during the 5th and final day.
To win a last title before the World Cup at home (September 8-October 28), the Blues of Fabien Galthié (2nd, 15 points, +46) must count on the English to bring down the Irish (1st, 19 pts, +66 ) at the same time.
But coach Fabien Galthié does not want to go into such calculations before the Blues match. “To win the Tournament, you must not be in the wrong opponent and beat Wales, he assured. Our next opponent is Wales and our match is Saturday at the Stade de France. We want to focus on our destiny. Afterwards, the rest is not ours…”
To continue to believe in an unprecedented double and deprive the Clover XV of a first Grand Slam since 2018, the French must therefore beat Wales with style, offensive bonus and wide gap as a bonus. In short, it will be necessary to do better than the record in this area, a 36-3 success which dates from 1991.
– The Blues “in the nails” –
At the time, the Blues had passed six tries by Serge Blanco, Jean-Baptiste Lafond, Franck Mesnel, Olivier Roumat, Philippe Saint-André and Philippe Sella, to afford the biggest success of the XV of France at home against this same adversary. The record, in all competitions, dates back to 1998 and a 51-0 defeat at Wembley.
A week after having scattered England (53-10) like a puzzle at Twickenhman, the Blues of 2023 are no longer close to a feat. “We have a tournament to finish well: we still have a hand on the trophy. We know that it does not depend only on us (…) We are not going to let ourselves be intoxicated”, rightly warned the coach of the French attack Laurent Labit.
Same speech from Karim Ghezal, co-trainer of the Blues in charge of conquest and specific tasks. “We want to be in a position to win competitions, we are always there even if we don’t have all the keys in hand. We always have the possibility of winning a match, of being world No. 1 at 7:00 p.m. after the match. . We’ll see then at 9:00 p.m. (after Ireland-England, editor’s note). It would be better if they didn’t play but hey… (laughs) We’re in the nails and that’s the most important thing.”
– The Welsh “in the fight” –
The current XV of France has a string of feats: they have won in Wales (2020, first victory since 2010), in Ireland (2021, first victory since 2011), in Australia (2021, first victory since 1990) , in Scotland (2022, first victory since 2014) before dominating the legendary All Blacks (2021, first victory since 2009) or the South African world champions (2022, first victory since 2009)…
They also offered a historic demonstration at Twickenham. Except that the men of Warren Gatland, who must be wondering why he has returned to the business of a drifting team, have taken it into their heads to spoil the French party.
“The French are the second nation in the world. It’s a very physical team, which is used to starting strong. It’s important: we have to start well to be able to be in the fight until the end. We it should be that,” said the Welsh coach.
To bury the hopes of the tricolor, they will therefore have to go through the Stade de France, where the Blues of Galthié have lost only once since the end of the World Cup-2019. It was in 2020, against Scotland (27-23), a decisive match for the title. Already.
It will then be time to think about the World Cup-2023.