If the calendar has been turned upside down by the global Covid-19 pandemic, and the fight between the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the National Rugby League (LNR), Fabien Galthié chose, Thursday, October 22, continuity. The coach of the XV of France announced the composition of the team that will face Wales on Saturday, the same as the first team of France aligned by the Lotois, during the France-England opening the 2020 Six Nations Tournament.
Having to respect the fragile balance imposed by the agreement – obtained at the cost of interminable negotiations – between the NRL and the clubs, Fabien Galthié trusted his executives to revive the blue machine, hampered by the coronavirus.
The agreement implying that each player selected would not exceed three match sheets on the test phase, this resumption match, which is not “A preparation match” to believe Laurent Labit, coach of the rear lines, will allow the XV of France version Galthié, to resume its march forward. Even if it means having to turn the workforce widely after having played the closing shock of the Tournament, on October 31 against Ireland.
🇫🇷🏴 𝐕𝐎𝐓𝐑𝐄 𝐗𝐕 𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐋𝐀̀! See you on Saturday at 9:10 pm at the @StadeFrance against Wales (@ WelshRugbyUnion… https://t.co/BoEI0RbzZ0
No calculation, apparently, in the choice of players. For this recovery after the defeat in Scotland, preceding the interruption of the season due to the pandemic, the XV of France ignores the disparate states of form – some players have played a lot of matches, others arrive without benchmarks.
In this game, Racing 92 winger Teddy Thomas, removed from the starting XV in Scotland (17-28) due to mixed performances, especially in defense, is back. Like his counterpart on the opposite wing, the neo-Montpélliérain Vincent Rattez, forced to leave the Blues after a fibula fracture during France-Italy (35-22). Gaël Fickou (Stade Français), who replaced him on the wing, made his return to the center, which sent young Arthur Vincent (Montpellier) back to the bench.
Facing Wales, which they had beaten in Cardiff, all these Blues executives – from the Dupont-Ntamack hinge to the unchanged forward pack – will “spend” their first scoresheet of the autumn tour.
Logically, they should continue against Ireland the following week, before the XV of France begins a large workforce review for the rest of the test matches.