He was omnipresent. Here, there and there again, always and everywhere, in all four corners of the field. To tackle, to push, to scrape the balloons. It’s not the most spectacular. Nor the most visible on the meadow. However, it was François Cros who imposed himself on March 11 as the linchpin of the success of the Blues on Welsh soil (13-9). Thanks to this fourth consecutive victory in the Six Nations Tournament, the XV of France has the possibility of aiming for the tenth grand slam in its history against England, this Saturday March 19 at 9 p.m. at the Stade de France.
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But do not count on the guy to validate this highlight. The third line does not like to step out of line and repeats it over and over again: in rugby,“the collective comes first”. That’s what he appreciates in this game, and it fits perfectly with his temperament. Shadow worker, here is his niche, perfectly assumed.
“François is a very thoughtful person, who has thought a lot about the environment in which he operates. He favors simplicity and efficiency, without exposing himself, without extravagance, for example on social networks. Someone who doesn’t talk to say nothing, but who can be very listened to, says ex-international Olivier Magne.
The former player, who made the heyday of the Blues between 1997 and 2007 (four grand slams to his name), knows something about it: François Cros was the captain of the France under-20 team in which Olivier played Magne as a forwards coach in the mid-2010s. “François has always shown great discretion, but he was very appreciated and weighed a lot on these young Blues in 2014, the year they achieved their last grand slam. » Yes, François Cros was already providing, but true to himself, quietly.
Its course is not that of a sparkling comet, landing suddenly on the front of the stage. He started quite young, at 8 years old, but only to keep up with his friends because he didn’t have much fun in the other two sports he played, swimming and basketball. He took the time to make good progress in his training club of Seilh, in the Toulouse suburbs, under the guidance of a “true educator”unfortunately deceased in 2020 but whose teaching forever marks the international future.
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These famous “rugby values” pinned to the body, he goes through the stages serenely: the Toulouse Stadium welcomes him in 2009, he joins the Hopes Pole of the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis in 2013, therefore puts on the youth jersey, has his first Top 14 match in 2016 , at 22, and finds himself six months later on the list of players followed for the XV of France.
All done “naturally, as events unfold. I forged myself during this period and when I was tried on a professional level, I was ready”, he summarizes. François Cros has never been inflamed, even taking care to carry out six years of parallel studies to become a podiatrist. Rugby but not only, an old-fashioned trajectory.
“François is an intelligent guy, and this shows on the field by his ability to always intervene in a relevant and useful way, emphasizes Olivier Magne. It reminds me of Albert Cigagna, which was called the marshalling yard at the Toulouse Stadium in the 1980s and 1990s. » The third row and captain of the Rouge et Noir was one of the club’s master strategists then, and François Cros is following in his footsteps.
In 2019, his first title of Top 14 champion and his podiatrist diploma console him for his non-selection for the World Cup. The disappointment is quickly digested, and it imposes itself from the 2020 Six Nations Tournament as one of the essential parts of the XV of France that Fabien Galthié is building.
Injured for the 2021 edition, he therefore returns today, his versatility being another asset of his profile, he who enjoys “to be as complete as possible with a lot of different tasks”. He can also lend a hand on the sidelines, or help out in the center position, as the coach had suggested before the game against Scotland.
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“For me, if someone is essential to this XV of France today, it’s him, summarizes Olivier Magne. Antoine Dupont is certainly the captain, but he is not very far away. » François Cros is always available. Serving. Small, moreover, he wanted to become a firefighter. We don’t redo each other.
The grand slam in the viewfinder
A “crunch” to break everything? The traditional confrontation between the two best enemies of the Six Nations Tournament is worth its weight in gold this year since the Blues will play the grand slam against the English, icing they have not put on their cake since 2010. It was already against the XV de la Rose, and the fight had been tough, 12-10 in the end, a very small margin. As for the previous grand slam, won in 2004, again against the English, after a 24-21 victory.
If the Blues do not manage to achieve this fifth trick in the Tournament, they can still win it, but everything will then depend on their score and especially on the result of Ireland which receives Scotland, Saturday at the end of the day. midday.