against Australia, the XV of France begins the last straight line towards “its” World Cup

A professional rugby team rarely goes unnoticed, the fault of the presence in its ranks of a good number of fellows who easily exceed 1.90 meters and 100 kilos. This is even more true when this same team has just had ten successes, winning its first grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament for twelve years. This is the situation in which the French team finds itself, which challenges Australia on Saturday November 5 at the Stade de France (at 9 p.m.) to begin its autumn tour, a series of three friendly matches.

After having finally dusted off their trophy cabinet, the Blues are therefore starting a new season with their eyes already turned towards its end, the World Cup in France (from September 8 to October 28, 2023) – a culmination for a generation programmed for this event. since coach Fabien Galthié took office in 2019. “The World Cup has been on everyone’s mind for a long time”, admits Grégory Alldritt, who has already worn his shorts with the young French team during the last World Cup, in Japan. From the height of his thirty-one selections, the 25-year-old third row from La Rochelle is now part of the group’s executives, and will start against Australia.

“I have a lot of admiration for this team.admits Aurélien Rougerie. She managed to build up the confidence to be ready for this final stretch. » The former center and international winger (seventy-six selections) knows the current situation of the XV of France well for having participated in the 2007 World Cup, also organized in France.

He too was part of the adventure which had seen the Blues lose in the semi-finals against England, Sébastien Bruno (twenty-six caps) points out the dangers which await the Blues: “Our generation was also confident before the competition, but we put too much pressure on ourselves and got through it a bit. »

The backbone of the team no longer moves

“But this team relies heavily on the under-20 World Cup-winning generations [en 2018 et 2019], she has proven that she can perform very well”, relativizes the ex-hooker. From the start of his term, Fabien Galthié chose to trust young players without much experience. In 2020, the forty-two elected from his first list showed starving average ages and selections at this level: 24 years old for eight capes!

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Nearly three years later, his bet is successful: the twenty-three who will face Australia are twenty-two selections on average. Better, none of them is under 23, and only two are over thirty (Uini Atonio and Romain Taofifenua, 32 each). And their maturity will be affirmed with the twelve meetings that the Blues will play before their first match of the World Cup, against New Zealand.

With four exceptions, the XV that will challenge Australia is the same one that concluded the grand slam against England in March. And there is no need to look for any tactical choice from Fabien Galthié and his staff to explain these changes.

If Paul Willemse, François Cros, Gabin Villière and Melvyn Jaminet are not there, it’s for a simple reason: they are all injured and have all withdrawn. “There have long been far too many changes between the matches of the XV of France. It’s good that the players chain and develop automatisms “, salutes the former opener Rémi Talès (twenty-four selections).

Australia and South Africa are missing out on their roster

Like what is usually done in Anglo-Saxon countries and the southern hemisphere, when a holder can play, he is systematically aligned. Latest example with Romain Ntamack. Barely recovered from a sprained ankle, and away from the field since the beginning of September, the Toulousain will find the lawns directly by treading that of the Stade de France, with the number 10 in the back.

Romain Ntamack (ball in hand) during a meeting of the Blues and Ireland, at the Stade de France, October 31, 2020.

“It’s a huge mark of confidence in him, the XV of France has been looking for its opener for years and has finally found it.believes Rémi Talès. The team is very mature, but it looks like he’s been there for ten years even though he’s only 23! » During an almost perfect 2021-2022 season, Romain Ntamack and the Blues beat most of the major rugby nations. Only two are missing from their roster: Australia and South Africa. That’s good, they are the next two opponents of the Blues, starting with the Wallabies on Saturday.

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Only third in the Rugby Championship (annual competition pitting them against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina), in September, the Australians remain the last to have brought down the XV of France, July 17, 2021 . “It’s an unpredictable team, capable of anything and very physical. Whether in front or behind, they are very powerful and never let go,” says Grégory Alldritt. The opportunity is great for the French team to prove, once again, that it is already ready for “its” World Cup.


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