6 Nations 2024 – Road to the end of hell, can France XV bounce back?

Not since Fabien Galthié took charge has a French XV been so outclassed in an international match. Never since the winter of 2020 have the Tricolores seemed so far away from some of the best rugby players on the planet. Will he recover?

We really understood that this evening had definitely turned into a nightmare when just a few hours after we swallowed a Moor in a T-shirt and bermuda shorts for the price of a coffee on the Avenue du Prado, we came across this guy with a bleeding mouth, protected by a dozen, in the same places CRS after a light skirmish between supporters… unless he also fell on Willems’ murderous shoulder. It’s not for “wimps”, international rugby! And to tell the truth, this night of February 2 was so villainous that if there was another misunderstanding, we would even think we were going back a few years, to the time when Le Goret, Guilhem Guirado or Jacques Brunel took up the trembling voice . on the thread of a twitch that we all wish we could forget. Because at a time when the streets of Marseille were now deserted by the loving resentment of throngs of supporters who still clung to the dirty tarmac bistros, this lexical field of despondency resonated in our heads, a refrain we thought had completely disappeared from the landscape. “They outperformed us in every area.”, said Gaël Fickou. “We wanted to show a completely different face”, endorsed Gregory Alldritt. “We’ll have to get back to work.”, concluded Paul Boudehent. These words, uttered both because the exercise required it and because nature always had a horror of the vacuum, ended up being very hollow compared to the boxer-sounding face of Fabien Galthié in the twilight of this bad delirium. .

In truth, the national coach knew in this very stadium that “love” as his first real beating”task” and wherever he looked, at last there was nothing left to hold on to. At the Vélodrome, the ‘all-out’ strategy went awry and some strong choices by the Blues boss eventually backfired: we’re thinking here of the voluntary offloading of Cameron Woki, the option of leaving the only true tricolor jumper (Charles Ollivon) at the gluttony of Tadgh Beirne, the great Meaulnes, Co. Kildare; we also think about the possibility of Yoram Moefana on the left wing, an area where his relative inexperience paved the way for the first of Ireland’s five tries. Five tries, dead ass… Thirty-eight points like so many donuts and at the end of this ominous night, a strange question from a colleague Galthia: “Fabien, is Paul Willems’ suspension professional misconduct or not?” Honestly speaking? We don’t remember exactly what the national team coach replied, except that he had “thought of Paul”whose simple dismissal largely plastered the tricolor tactics as he responded to the fourteen on “running intensity” and to “200 tools” that Peter O’Mahony and his teammates designed at the Vélodrome. We just remember thinking that a combat sport like rugby couldn’t politely ask its soldiers to flirt with violence and then suddenly dismiss them for “negligence”on the grounds that the principle “lon shoulder line” or I don’t know what nonsense could have been forgotten at the time of the raid. So there is no doubt that Willemse said goodbye to the France team on Friday. On the other hand, the fact that the prosecutors of all our TV shows can prosecute him today is heresy.

The suffering of thirty years

That’s because there are a thousand other issues that need to be addressed before we address the legitimate embarrassment of a 6-foot-1 individual taking on a smaller guy of smaller stature in terms of size and actual speed. The first of these will probably be solved on the couch of a psychiatrist who is very knowledgeable in understanding why none of us in general, and the French XV in particular, no longer knows how to live and play without Antoine Dupont, whose absence only highlighted the humanity of Maxime Luca and offered First Captain Gregory Alldritt the sad record of a defeat the magnitude of which had not been known in this territory since 1914.

We are also interested in whether the idea of ​​taking “80 or 90% of current internationals” until Australia’s World Cup was really good, after a match where the thirty-year-olds (seventeen out of twenty-three) seemed to suffer a thousand deaths in the face of the madness that the Irish displayed in groups, tools and all around these Field Athinry which twisted our eardrums more than usual. About his old stove, Fabien Galthié often says that there is no reason why “rotation” be done”due to age”, brandishing, without naming the example of South Africa, a world champion with several bluestems from the international circuit in their ranks, be it Duane Vermeulen, Faf de Klerk, Frans Malherbe or Bongi Mbonambi, all well into their thirties. But does this comparison really hold up? As long as French 30-somethings play twice as much outside of the international season as these Boks, with bodies unscathed by Japan’s professional championship or God knows what other closed league, the bridge will obviously remain chimerical, false.

The international season is tough

Will this inaugural defeat ultimately throw everything into doubt? Will you finally sweep away the certainties born of a successful first term, even an exciting one, when it comes to an end? Obviously not. And here the witch hunt stops on its own in this French midfield, where Jonathan Danty and Gaël Fickou are too far from their best to consider themselves out of danger or from questioning as sudden as it is inevitable. Because no matter how much we think about the horizon, we end up saying that from a purely French perspective, the coup of February 2 undermined both interest in the ongoing tournament and the international season as such. Because what would change the overall framework of a successful end of the competition and a winning tour to Argentina, in the middle of the football Euro and with the B team? Not much, a priori. And in many ways, we are all doomed to spend the next few months consumed by the unpleasant feeling that we have again become the hunted, the prey, when only a few weeks ago we considered ourselves the super predator, the alpha male…

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