The quarter-final lost (20-19) against the Welsh marks the end of a depressing cycle. And the beginning of something, want to believe the Blues, four years of a World Cup at home.
Again, it all started with a dance. A dance of local artists, all in masks, to the sound of flutes: a kagura, according to the two height screens. It was well before the kickoff against the Welsh. Well before all the hopes flying over the roof of the Oita stadium, in southern Japan, Sunday, October 20th. Well before this new elimination of the XV of France in the quarterfinals of the World Cup (19-20).
The third in nine editions. Its lowest level. As in 1991. And as in 2015, where everything had already started with a dance. That of the All Blacks in person. A haka of New Zealand players on a Welsh lawn in Cardiff, already under a closed roof, for a record defeat (62-13).
From one dance to another, four years have passed. And an unpleasant feeling: since then, French rugby has lost a lot of time and won few games. As if he suffered above all from his constant improvisation, from his perpetual hurry. And as if he had built a team a little baroque, odds and ends.
A team of odds and ends
A striking example? Until the end of August, and the injury of Geoffrey Doumayrou in training camp, Virimi Vakatawa did not know that he would go to Japan to play a World Cup. And so he would write the third French test of Sunday. Because here is the three-quarters center once again holder since his return … more than a year after his previous appearance.
We could go on for a long time, because of lost games and lost players along the way. For far too long, to list all the men in the national team these last four seasons: 104. Either much more than during the previous era and its already alarming number: 83 in the same amount of time.
We find the Blues of the moment, Sunday at the end of the day, in an underground alley of the Oita stadium. Cross their haggard mine. Hear their frustration of letting the game go again. "Some have shed tears, others have not," says the opener Camille Lopez, without specifying which category it falls. Think: Welsh coach Warren Gatland has admitted winning against " the best " of both teams.
Even the coach, Jacques Brunel, would have had trouble imagining in Japan two years ago. But someone had to train this team. And especially to replace Guy Novès, dismissed for "serious misconduct", in December 2017. Never again the French Rugby Federation (FFR) had "thanked" his coach mid-term. An unfair dismissal, in fact: the labor courts sentenced her to pay 1 million euros in compensation.