Rugby: the XV of France launched towards its World Cup



“The World Cup, of course we think about it, but only from Monday”, explained Antoine Dupont at the microphone of France Télévisions after the victory against England (25-13), Saturday March 19. This success allowed France to win the Six Nations Tournament, achieving the tenth grand slam in its history.

→ ANALYSIS. Rugby, the pass of ten for the XV of France

The captain of the Blues thus claimed, in his own way, two days of respite before moving on to the story of this XV of France which will now have its mind turned towards September 8, 2023. The Blues will then face their best enemies. , the All Blacks, on the lawn of the Stade de France, for the opening match of the French world championship.

75% wins since the last World Cup

What will become of the heroes of the 2022 Tournament in a year and a half? Impossible to predict, even if some hopes are now allowed after this grand slam which will remain as a founding event. Like that of 2010, when the XV of France had won the five rounds of the Tournament, a year before the final of the 2011 World Cup, narrowly lost against the All Blacks (7-8).

→ REREAD. Rugby, France at a Grand Slam match

Are we on the same momentum as in 2010? Several factors suggest yes. The first one “arrow of time”, to use an expression dear to coach Fabien Galthié, was unchecked on Saturday. Already a few darts had found their target: the XV of France exceeded the ratio of 75% of victories since the last World Cup, it chained eight successes in a row and beat all the big nations. With the exception of South Africa, world number one ahead of France in the nations ranking, which they will face in a test match next fall, just to plant a new ” arrow “.

“A very disciplined rugby”

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for 2023. The coach Fabien Galthié has elements that have proven themselves in the history of collective sport: he knew how to shake up habits, by doing without players who seemed indisputable before. The indiscipline in the ground phases has disappeared and the XV of France is no longer bombarded with annoying penalties by the referees. “The big difference between this French team and that of two or three years ago is its great tactical discipline. They are developing a very disciplined rugby,” observed England coach Eddie Jones.

→ READ. Rugby: the XV of France, or the art of the lightning transition

The traditional dilettantism of French rears in defensive matters has also evaporated: wingers and other three-quarters have turned into ruthless tacklers. Individual talent is at the service of the group, which makes all the difference in a team sport.

But these different sporting elements are worth nothing without the factor… luck. And Fabien Galthié had the happiness (and the flair) to come across an exceptional generation. A good part of the guys who lifted the tournament trophy on Saturday evening were world champions under 20, in 2018 or 2019.

World class players

“World Under 20, Grand Slam, everything went so fast and strong”, claimed the second row Cameron Woki after the match, aware that the titles in junior often announce bright tomorrows in senior. “Today, we were around 26 years old and 24 selections on average. There’s no reason the team can’t keep improving.” wants to believe Fabien Galthié.

In all lines of the game, the XV of France has at least one world-class player playing in a top-flight club: Cyril Baille in the front row, Cameron Woki in second, Grégory Alldritt in third. Damian Penaud on the wing, Gaël Fickou in the middle. Without forgetting the famous hinge without which the door of the oval pantheon cannot open: Romain Ntamack, essential in number 10, and the incredible Antoine Dupont, number 9 and conductor.

→ PORTRAIT. Rugby: François Cros, the discreet essential of the XV of France

All major team sports formations are based on a group of excellent instrumentalists led by a genius soloist. Football had Zinedine Zidane in 1998 and now benefits from the talent of Kylian Mbappé; handball was worn by Nikola Karabatic and volleyball by Earvin Ngapeth. Antoine Dupont could be the captain capable of bringing his company to the top step in 2023.

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A grand slam record in spectators and audience

Historic in the sporting history of the XV of France, the France-England of Saturday March 19 will remain as the match of other records. Put up for sale after the victory against the All Blacks last November (40-25), the 79,176 places at the Stade de France had found takers in a flash, this figure constituting a record in the current configuration of the enclosure. Fabien Galthié’s men have also been a hit on television. On average, 8.95 million French people were in front of their post on Saturday evening, with peaks at 10.5 million, a record broken for a tournament match.

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