Limitation to three game sheets requires, the typical group of Fabien Galthié ends with his tour this Sunday in Murrayfield. Where he had conceded his only defeat in March.
Fabien Galthié, Raphaël Ibanez and all the French staff are extremely meticulous. They repeat it over and over, they have a plan. Constantly discussed, amended, improved. Their famous arrow of time. Who took a nasty blow in the feathers with the Covid-19 epidemic. Matches postponed, the June tour canceled, that of November inflated with three additional tests, before the one against Fiji disappears, mown by the virus. Enough to make goats less psychorigid.
But if things heat up under their heads, the coach and the manager of the XV of France show nothing. Display an unfailing serenity. Cross out their copy, reformulate a new one, without ever complaining. True to their trademark, they assign each new match a mission. The standoff between pro rugby and the Federation – which resulted in an agreement setting at three match sheets the maximum mobilization of each Blue – prevents them from maintaining the course of continuity, deprives them of renewing, to make him win as quickly as possible in collective experience and individual maturity, their typical team? Never mind.
»READ ALSO – XV of France: a score to settle against Scotland
This match against Scotland on Sunday (4:15 p.m.) in Edinburgh will be placed under a double postulate. This will be the last of the new executives (with the exception of Romain Ntamack, slightly injured). Before leaving on a blank sheet for the last two tests (16 novices summoned to face Italy next Saturday). It will also be that of the usual “finishers” – the term used insistently by the two bosses of the XV of France to qualify the replacements -, promoted to … “beginners”. Five in the pack, plus Matthieu Jalibert and Thomas Ramos behind.
Do the liners promoted to titular have much to gain?
“Since the start of our adventure, February 2 against England, we have been working with these same finishers. They helped us perform. Today, they largely deserve to start. In the emulation that drives our team, they have their place as holders, ”explains Galthié. A reward but not only. The purpose is greater. “They become holders because we need to ventilate this team. We have to give them more presence on the ground and a different role. It helps us to grow, to densify the players, ”insists the coach.
He knows that, in the three years that separate the XV of France from the World Cup at home, his final goal, his team is not immune to injury or poor shape. It is better, therefore, to have about thirty interchangeable players in the event of a hard blow. But we must not be naive. Some have taken a long lead. Antoine Dupont or Romain Ntamack for example. “No one is installed,” Galthié replies. This match is Jalibert’s time. “We don’t have to believe it …
»READ ALSO – Galthié: “The ” finishers ” largely deserved to start against Scotland”
Do the liners promoted to titular have much to gain? It is not certain. But they have a lot to lose. In the French ranks, this test has an additional stake. Take revenge on the only defeat of the Galthié era (28-17). One failure in the middle of five successes. Losing again at Murrayfield (where the XV of France has not won since… 2014) is not part of the plan. Which rather provides a dazzling and convincing victory against a XV of Chardon. Which has regained all its spice and is crowned with a series, in progress, of five victories.
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