Charles Ollivon (right) and Grégory Alldritt (center) during the match against New Zealand, at the Stade de France in Paris, September 8, 2023. PIERRE LAHALLE / PRESSE SPORTS
If they have it protruding, the rugby players’ biceps are never surrounded by an armband. Unlike football, where the captain is recognized by this piece of fabric wrapped around his arm, it is impossible to distinguish him from his fourteen partners. Which in no way diminishes his responsibilities. Being designated captain requires mastering both his nerves and the mysteries of this confrontational sport with complex strategy: he is the only member of his team authorized to speak with the referee. “You have to both have a good vision of the game and be unifying in difficult times”summed up coach Fabien Galthié, at the start of his mandate at the head of the XV of France.
The Lotois technician masters the subject. Like his partner Raphaël Ibañez, general manager of the Blues, he “worn the armband” for the national team on numerous occasions during his playing days. However, to face Italy, Friday October 6 in Lyon (9 p.m., on TF1), in the final meeting of Group A, he will be deprived of the captain and playing master whom he chose for his team: Antoine Dupont . Injured in the cheekbone during the match against Namibia (96-0), Thursday September 21, the scrum half will not be recovered in time. He could return to the field in the event of qualification for the quarter-finals – which a victory against the Transalpines would guarantee – if the surgeon who operated on his maxillo-zygomatic fracture gives him the green light.
Since taking office, Fabien Galthié has focused on “take some pressure off the captain”. The first elected, the third row Charles Ollivon – 26 years old at the time – knew that he would only have this status temporarily, for the duration of the 2020 Six Nations Tournament. A choice made by the staff, to avoid that the great Basque is not crushed by the charge. “The cuff can be a weightstates Thierry Dusautoir, who wore it from 2009 to 2015. When the team is in a little more difficulty, you have to manage complicated tasks all week, in front of the press and your teammates. It can be heavy at the end. »
Guilhem Guirado, who was in the dark years of the XV of France, where the Blues had a series of defeats (38% victories), would not contradict him. “Guilhem, who was captain for a long time, had all the weight on his shoulders”summarizes the most capped Blues at the World Cup, Gaël Fickou (83 caps), interviewed in the spring. “Of course there was less support and I felt aloneagrees the former hooker, contacted by telephone. But it is mainly linked to the fact that there was a lot of rotation in the France team, so we lacked continuity. » The results not being there, the successive selectors were quick to try something else; enough to slow down the emergence of lasting leaders capable of taking over.
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