For the Bleues du rugby, a year of wave to the soul



The sky hasn’t totally fallen on their heads yet, but it’s just like. For the XV of France female, the weekend promises to be more gloomy, with the temptation – it’s human – to maintain a slim hope. Very, very thin. Because the announcement of World Rugby, Tuesday March 2, hardly encourages optimism: because of “The evolution of the uncertain and difficult global landscape of Covid-19”, the governing body of the world oval “Recommend” the one-year postponement of the Women’s World Cup, which was to be played in New Zealand from September 18 to October 16.

The recommendation is due to be considered and voted on Monday, March 8 by the board of directors of the organizing committee for the 2021 World Cup, as well as by the executive committee of World Rugby the following day. But the result of these polls is not in doubt, since the video message broadcast by Alan Gilpin, executive director of World Rugby, on the site of the instance: rcarry the tournament see you next year ” offers the best guarantee to allow players and teams to fully prepare, explains the manager.

A surprising announcement

“We knew that we needed a very strict health context, but we did not expect a postponement at all”, commented, stunned, Gaëlle Hermet, the captain of the Bleues. “We are still in the shock of this surprising announcement, reacts Annick Hayraud, the manager of Les Bleues. I hardly have any illusions. This is a major disappointment for us management. And for the players, it’s terrible. “

→ THE FACTS. Rugby: the Six Nations Tournament cut off from its female and young versions

The XV of France female never ceases to receive news suitable for tackling the best resolutions. The cancellation of the 2020 Six Nations Tournament, first, because of the emerging pandemic. If in the fall, their male counterparts were able to finish theirs, and quite nicely against Ireland (a 35-27 victory), for the Blue on the other hand, cases of Covid-19 forced the postponement. , then to outright cancellation. Frustration.

Les Bleues nonetheless revived at the end of November 2020, with a double confrontation against their best enemies, the English. They even came close to the feat at Twickenham, bowing to the wire (23-25). One of their most accomplished services. But the year 2021 started again in fog, with a postponement of the Tournament to April, while the men’s competition remained on track. “Some have thought: it’s the girls who drink once again, explains Annick Hayraud. But no. Unfortunately, all women’s teams do not have the same status and some countries were not able to guarantee a sufficient sanitary bubble to play in all serenity. Reporter, it was a question of sports fairness. “

A very strict health bubble for the Tournament

These incessant changes, while the club teams play normally, the management integrates them as best they can. “Planning, we keep doing it and undoing it, says the manager of Les Bleues. It is exhausting. For the players, it’s worse. Some have been affected by the disease, fortunately without serious consequences. But the health constraints are enormous, they make a lot of sacrifices. “

In fact, they know that their next internship, from March 21 to 28, will be placed under the sign of drastic respect for protocol, history of not experiencing the same feuilletonesques misadventures as the men’s XV of France. “And above all because we want at all costs to be able to play this Tournament in April, insists Annick Hayraud. So our players will only go out for individual training, respecting the safety distances. As soon as the training is over, you come back to your room and eat alone. “ These conditions, the group had known them for five days to constitute a health bubble before returning to a more normal situation, to prepare the double “crunch” against the English, in November. There, because of the variants, these constraints will last for seven days.

Motivating the troops, under these conditions, is always a challenge. The probable postponement of the World Cup adds to the morale of the group. Annick Hayraud has her work cut out for her.

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A concentrated tournament

Postponed from April 3 to 25, 2021, the Women’s Six Nations Tournament is also reviewing its formula to limit health risks. It is modeled on that of the Men’s Fall Nations Cup last November and December. The teams are divided into two pools of three. Les Bleues will host Wales on April 3, and will challenge Ireland on April 17. The winners of each group must then meet in the final, the others in the classification match. Logically, the Blue should therefore face England in the final to try to win a seventh victory in the competition.

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