France v Ireland – An uncomfortable question: have France qualified?

This Friday at the Marseille Vélodrome, Ireland were swept (17-38) and the French XV realized their limits in a one-sided game. This defeat, which comes on the heels of a massive World Cup disappointment, hurts. What if the Blues equalize?

From the beginning of Fabien Galthié’s mandate, from the XV. France spreads a kind of magic. Something extra that meant that even when they were in a more than complicated situation, the Blues always knew how to come out with their heads held high, even in defeat. For four years, the progress of the group focused on the global goal was even visible. The problem is that the famous World Cup in France, which everyone was waiting for, was a failure and after the huge disappointment of being eliminated in the quarter-finals, we had to start a new cycle. The 6 Nations tournament then came very quickly, with a direct clash in the form of a duel against Ireland.

A slap that questions

And despite the context, Fabien Galthié’s men dived into the build-up to this encounter with a certain confidence. Only, France was rarely outclassed since the former scrum took over. Tactically mastered, physically carried away, played on the line, stifled on the ground and humiliated on the scoreboard… The Blues went through hell against Ireland. “From Monday we will have to look in the mirror and tell ourselves the truth,” whispered captain Grégory Alldritt after the match. His teammate Gaël Fickou confirmed: “The Irish outclassed us in every area tonight.

Then we have to face the facts: France saw its limits this Friday and above all noted that it no longer has the level of the best nations in the world. Although the French were billed as Ireland’s main competitors during this 2024 edition, they floundered with several of their ideas. The first one is player selection. For his second cycle, Fabien Galthié decided not to bet on youth as in 2019, but to keep a large part of the team that reached the World Cup. It even recently announced that it wants to hire 80% of its current workforce by 2027.

Tactics and outdated players

However, it was the ‘old boys’ who symbolized the Blues’ downfall this Friday. The first name that comes to mind is that of Paul Willems, an important element of the mandate’s early years, which has since suffered numerous injuries and accidents. Despite this, the blue staff decided to renew their faith in him (after Meafou’s withdrawal) and left Cameron Woki and Posolo Tuilagi on the bench (originally Romain Taofifenua). More than average performances from Maxime Luca, Jonathan Danty and Gaël Fickou also raise the question of the place of the new generation in the group. Don’t Nolann Le Garrec, Émilien Gailleton or Nicolas Depoortere embody more of the promise of 2027?

Another fall: the fall of tactics. In addition to the sideline and on-ball defense struggling tremendously this Friday, the possession game was lost. Backed into a corner throughout the match, the Tricolores seemed to suffer at every touch against the much more conquerable Irish. So when we defend and suffer physically, it’s hard to hope for anything in this kind of match… To see the decline of this French team, we can finally look at the world rankings. Rugby from the best countries in the world.

With this home defeat, France (ranked 4th in the world) sees a considerable gap between them and New Zealand (ranked 3rd). Above all, he feels that England is getting dangerously close. England could follow the Blues if they win against Italy this Saturday. Way to realize that XV France may have fallen into line.

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