for the XV of France, the end (of the match) justifies the means

“We start at the end, actually. “ For almost two years now that he has taken the destiny of the French men’s rugby team in hand, Fabien Galthié has been happy to use soaring images. In this case, the technician from Lot wants to make people understand all the importance that there is for the tricolor XV to better manage the end of its matches.

This is the message he sent to the Blues, gathered at the end of October at the Marcoussis National Rugby Center, a few days before the start of the autumn tour which will see them successively face the Argentina, Saturday November 6, Georgia (Sunday November 14) then New Zealand (Saturday November 20). Because the observation is cruel. “Since we took the France team, except the match in Scotland [lors du Tournoi des six nations de 2020, 28-17], all our defeats were played on the last action, we lost on the end of the matches ”, explained, in early July, the French coach. Against Australia, the Blues had just let slip, in the final seconds, a victory that seemed promised to them (21-23).

Evil is not new. From the first match under the leadership of the new staff, Antoine Dupont had messed up late in the game, leaving the ball a few seconds too early and offering the English a last attacking ball – enhanced by a penalty. If the Blues had finally won, the three points conceded in the money time had cost them the title at the end of the Six Nations Tournament.

“Out of eighteen games played, we have six defeats, including five in the last actions, while we were leading”, insists Fabien Galthié. While his group begins its third season under his orders, the technician would like to erase this stamp. The supervision of the XV of France has therefore rolled up its sleeves.

End-of-game simulations

With his sidekick Raphaël Ibanez (the general manager), the coach takes a methodical approach. After the defense work, “resolved” by the recruitment of the English specialist Shaun Edwards, the French coach is working on that of the money time, these last minutes when time passes in slow motion, the organisms stall and the heads struggle to see clearly.

In an international rugby where the gaps between the best teams are the thickness of a blade of grass, the pair at the head of the Blues never ceases to hammer out that everything is played down to one detail. To eliminate imperfections, the staff has concocted practice. Wednesday October 27, under the sun of Marcoussis, after harsh physical sequences under the leadership of the performance director, Thibault Giroud, a scenario “From the abundant imagination of Fabien” – the words are from Ibanez – expected the Blues. “Guys, we’re playing the 78e minute, you are behind by five points and you have a throw-in in your favor in the opposing 22 meters ”, exposed the coach to the alleged holders.

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