Serious things begin for the XV of France women. Qualified for the quarter-finals thanks to their second place in Group C, Les Bleues begin the phase of knockout matches on Saturday, October 29, against Italy, in Whangarei, New Zealand (5:30 a.m., on TF1). Against the Azzurre, the coach, Thomas Darracq, chose to trust his executives, most of whom had been left to rest during the last match against Fiji (44-0), to lead the XV of France towards the semi-finals. finals.
Big smiles, sunglasses, barbecue… looking at the photos of the day at the beach organized on Sunday, the day after the big victory against the Fijians, nothing suggests that the Blues are playing their future in the competition on Saturday. However, this day of rest in Matapouri Bay is an integral part of the preparation for the rest of the World Cup, and was necessary to regenerate the bodies and minds of the players, who left France on September 22, and concentrated on the rugby since. “We’ve been in New Zealand for a while and training, so beyond rugby, the preparation will also be in our heads for the future”explains Gaëlle Hermet.
Captain for the opposition against Italy, the player with forty-one selections hopes that this trip to the sea will unite Les Bleues even more for the rest of the competition. “Between the moments off that we had this week, the positivity that we bring to training, the good mood, I think these are strong signals that can bring us [quelque chose] in the field and who are the strength of this group”she says.
Once the beach break was closed, Gaëlle Hermet and her teammates immediately got back to work, focused on tackling the quarter-final against Italy, their first decisive match. “It’s the second round, a second competition that begins, adds the Toulouse. These are games at stake, either it passes or it breaks, but we do not approach it like that, we do not want to add additional pressure. For us, it’s a stage that you have to win to reach the next stage. »
The return of the executives
While Thomas Darracq had rotated his squad to give playing time to usual substitutes against Fiji, the coach chose to return to a composition much closer to those of the first matches against South Africa and the England, by aligning, against Italy, twelve of the fifteen players who started against the English.
He must nevertheless do without the services of Laure Sansus, who suffers from a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, and Romane Menager, who is gradually recovering from a concussion suffered against the XV de la Rose. But the coach can count on Céline Ferer, Caroline Drouin, Maëlle Filopon or even Emilie Boulard, who were aligned in the first three games. “It’s one of the elements to take into account, but in relation to their positions, to injuries, there are girls who don’t play, and we try to have individual management in training for them”explains Thomas Darracq.
🇫🇷🇮🇹 The composition for the 1/4 final of 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐩𝐞 𝐝𝐮 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞! 👉 To be continued on @TF1 📺 #RWC2021 #FRAITA #XVdeFrance https://t.co/MKWFcFPWee
And although a group of almost indisputable holders seems to emerge for the final phase, the coach wants all his players to remain involved, as they can be assets when leaving the bench. « Chloe [Jacquet] is able to bring a lot of danger late in the game compared to her speed ability, Emeline [Gros] can also bring a lot of speed when they come back, and we know that this team from Italy can be dangerous until the end, he explains. The final phase matches will be played over time, so you also need a group of finishers capable of contributing at the end of the match. »
The end of the match is precisely what the Blues had missed, against these same Italians, in a preparation match, in September, with a converted try conceded at the 75e minute, signing a 26-19 defeat. This setback forces the XV of France to take the Azzurre seriously, but without feeling of revenge. “It’s a team that we are used to meeting, and which can look like us in terms of play. We are not taking this match as revenge. We are doing a clean slate, even if this match helped us in the preparation. There, we are in a new competition, and it is a team that we must meet to take the next step.assures Gaëlle Hermet, with already in mind the desire to reach the semi-finals, either against the New Zealanders or against the Welsh, who face each other on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.