Fabien Galthié preaches the blue faith

Fabien Galthié, XV coach of France, and Raphael Ibanez, general manager of the team, in Montgesty (Lot), November 13, 2019, during the presentation of the members of the staff.
Fabien Galthié, XV coach of France, and Raphael Ibanez, general manager of the team, in Montgesty (Lot), November 13, 2019, during the presentation of the members of the staff. PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

They wanted to see Toulouse, and they saw Toulouse. Then Clermont, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulon, Paris and Le Plessis-Robinson. Among others. Since taking office at the head of the XV of France in early November, Fabien Galthié and the management of the Blues have surveyed France in rugby. In two months, all the clubs of the Top 14 (and some of the lower level) were visited by these pilgrims who came to meet the players expected to form the new group, and to show a little white leg to the driving forces of French rugby.

Ensured, since Tuesday, December 31, to have as he hoped 42 players per rally (against 31 previously) after the agreement between the National Rugby League (LNR) and the French Rugby Federation (FFR) regulating the last Technical pitfalls to this development, the new coach Fabien Galthié beat the recall of the troops. "Since the beginning of November, the entire technical staff has seen around 90 players, with thirty minutes of interview per player", exposed the general manager of the Blues, Raphaël Ibañez, in early December in Hossegor (Landes).

Labeled interviews "New deal" by the Blues staff, to which were invited, in addition to the players concerned, their managers. "We were happy to participate, recounts Julien Arias, one of the co-coaches of the Stade Français. It’s good to hear the expectations of the Blues staff and the adventure in which they want to embark our players. " And in the overwhelming majority of cases, Galthié’s men were warmly welcomed, a notable element in an environment that tends to look at themselves like faience dogs, if not to work in their own corner.

Read also Rugby: Fabien Galthié outlines his roadmap at the head of the XV of France

Because, unlike Jacques Brunel, or before him Guy Novès, their predecessors at the head of the Blues, the duo Galthié-Ibañez is of the same generation as the majority of managers of the French elite. What "Makes it easier to establish a connection", argues Raphaël Ibañez. "Young President" Didier Lacroix himself confirms. "We share the same vision of rugby, underlines the president of the Toulouse stadium. Fabien has a very clear idea of ​​what the Top 14 is and its requirements, because he was a coach there until very recently. "

"Stay lucid"

With clubs, the teamwork of Ibañez, ex-captain of the Blues and himself a former coach, is essential. "He's going to put oil in the cogs and make the transmission belt", judged Franck Azéma, technician from Clermont, in November. Particularly to compensate for the “de-training” of certain players during the Blues' rallies, a bad recurrent that the coaches of the Top 14 criticized the previous staffs. And the main reason for going from 31 to 42 players per rally, to allow oppositions to 15 against 15 without worrying about injured players.

Some clubs, however, fear"Inflationary effect" from this list of almost 90 names. "Even if he had this interview, the player must remain lucid and not believe he has arrived", blows the boss of a Top 14 club, dreading seeing agents ringing at his door, demanding a raise on the pretext of their player's presence at these meetings.

"This connection established with the clubs must be maintained", hammered Raphaël Ibañez in Hossegor. This requires the creation of a database common to the clubs and the Blues, allowing the French coaching staff not to miss anything of the players' performances. Set up by the Blues' physical trainer, Thibault Giroud, this database, which should quickly be operational, will allow the French to catch up on the Anglo-Saxon nations, at the forefront in the field. "We're talking about rugby 2.0, here we are, insists Ibañez. We want to break the codes and this old reflex of wanting to keep its secrets, to share transparently. "

Including the game plans of the XV of France, widely disseminated in the clubs by the various coaches of the French staff who came to direct certain sessions. "I said to William (Servat, front coach) that he could come whenever he wanted, states Mauricio Reggiardo, trainer of Castres, in The Team. As for me, if I'm a player and a coach from the French team comes to lead an exercise in training, I don't see how I could not be rigorous and focused. " The only limit to this complete sharing posed by Galthié: do not expose their plan to the opponents of the Blues. "During training at Oyonnax, Laurent (Labit) and Karim (Ghezal) had to reduce the airfoil because there was also the visit of the coach of the English touch "

To keep his room for maneuver, Fabien Galthié gave an appointment on Wednesday January 8 for the first list of 42 players summoned to prepare for the Six Nations Tournament. Hoping to extend it as long as possible "The state of grace" from which it benefits. "But I'm not fooled, I know very well that we are going to go through difficult times. "


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