Fabien Galthié started the year under the stuffed head of a wild boar. Nothing surprising, when we know the appetite of the coach of the XV of France to praise the character “Gallic” rugby practiced by his troops. In the room adjoining the municipal land of Belvès, in the Dordogne, where he had come “training to train” at the beginning of January, with the local team, before taking charge of the Blues for the Six Nations Tournament, the French technician then sketched out the roadmap for his year 2023: the Six Nations Tournament and the World Cup (September 8 – October 28). “We want to defend this title [des Six Nations, remporté en 2022]. Our goal has always been to win, to win competitions, to once again become a major nation in world rugby. »
Two months have passed, and the French men’s rugby team had to agree to give up their crown. Large winners of Wales, Saturday March 18, at the Stade de France (41-28), in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), at the conclusion of the 2023 edition of the Tournament, the teammates of Antoine Dupont n were able to prevent Ireland, who had beaten them a few weeks earlier in Dublin, from achieving the grand slam.
Second in the competition, the French now have their sights set on their next meeting. Friday, September 8, the Stade de France will welcome them again, for the kick-off of the World Cup organized in France, against New Zealand. With certainties – 80% success in almost four years – and that of being able to do better, like a Six Nations Tournament that was slow at first, before ending in fireworks. “We started the Tournament halfheartedly, we did the best we could, estimated the French coach on Saturday. We try to be present and we have improved, it’s good to feel a progression. » For him, the latter was triggered by the first setback suffered by his team in almost two years, against the Irish, in early February.
“The defeat in Ireland brought us a lot”
Because before the Six Nations, the team designed by Fabien Galthié seemed to no longer know how to lose. Less sovereign in the fall than at the start of 2022, the French had struggled against Australia and had to work to beat the rough South African world champions. But, in both cases, as in the inaugural match of the 2023 Tournament in Italy, they had finally left the stadium as winners. Unbeatable, then, these Blues?
Landed in Dublin with a series of fourteen straight victories – a record for the French team – the partners of Antoine Dupont lost their footing on the lawn of the XV of Clover (19-32). An anything but shameful setback at the end of a high-flying match, Jonathan Sexton’s teammates having been, for several years, a formidable crushing machine. But an important sting: to recall and to the ego.
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