France – Ireland – Paul Willemse (XV France) sent off, karma lingers on the second line

For returning to the French team, Paul Willemse was logically sent off after half an hour of the game. A hard blow for the second row, which has already missed the World Cup due to injury…

How far away seem the days of romance between the XV. France and Paul Willems. With his hand on his heart, his shoulders as broad as the landings, his French almost perfect, the Pretoria native enjoyed two wonderful seasons with Fabien Galthié’s Blues, culminating in the 2022 Grand Slam of which he was a master craftsman. OF ? A colossus with muscles made of clay is living a real nightmare. On Friday night at the Vélodrome in Marseille, having been recalled to the 34-man roster only because of the withdrawal of Emmanuel Meafou, he was logically excluded from the France-Ireland meeting. Already at the beginning of the match he was punished with a yellow card for a charge in the face of Andrew Porter (9), the second one he barely got back in the game for a tackle on the neck of Caelan Doris (31). A hard blow for Montpellier, but also for the French team, who were already in trouble before finding themselves in a numerically worse position.

Paul Willemse, no doubt fully aware of the gravity of his error, knew what was about to happen when England referee Karl Dixon called for a second red card. A few seconds later he collapsed on the switchboard, his head in his hands, his eyes filled with tears. XV France seems to have rejected him for some time now.

New frustration

The second row, who already missed the 2019 World Cup due to injury, was also forced to withdraw just days before the opening match of the last World Cup. The reason? Torn a muscle in training in the “off” week between the final warm-up game against Australia and the first group game against New Zealand.

This time, he will not be deterred from the Blues by injury, but by a likely suspension. New frustration for the man who admitted his injury after the World Cup: “At one point I thought rugby might stop. (…) I didn’t know if I could, if I wanted to continue playing. (…) I started thinking about quitting.”. We imagined his recall in blue as a second wind, the last chance for the 31-year-old player. David Arrieta, former player of Biarritz Olympique, always colorful, preferred to smile and play down the drama: on X (ex Twitter) he wrote: “Getting two yellow cards in Marseille is not an exaggeration”. But what will Fabien Galthié think?

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