in Ireland, the XV of France to attack its “peak of the year”

In Ireland, Antoine Dupont and his partners aspire to extend their winning streak.

It has the flavor, the appeal and the aroma, but beware: this is not a finale. Already, because the formula of the Six Nations Tournament, the oldest of international rugby competitions, does not provide for a final phase. “My God, no! This is only the second match of a Six Nations Tournament.Irish winger James Lowe insisted this week. Saturday February 11, in Dublin, Ireland receives France (3:15 p.m., Paris time) for the second meeting of the 2023 Tournament and a match at the top of world rugby. “In the Tournament, not a match is not a finalsays French coach Fabien Galthié. But this one…it’s our peak of the year…so far. »

After beating Italy, in pain, a week earlier (29-24), after a “mixed performance”the French men’s rugby team aspires to raise the tone in Ireland. “We are a little under pressure, exposed the third tricolor line Thibaud Flament, in the spans of the Olympic Stadium in Rome, Sunday. We face the world number 1. We must therefore correct everything that has sinned against Italy ”. Starting with the indiscipline of the blue troops – 18 penalties conceded, a “record” under the Galthié era -, having pushed the French defense coach, Shaun Edwards, to apologize to the referee of Italy- France. “Our discipline was not good enough, we overcommitted”wrote the English technician on Tuesday in his weekly column at the DailyMail.

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“Discipline is a strong point for us”

Thursday, at the time of announcing the composition of the XV of France – unchanged from the first match of the Tournament, against Italy -, Fabien Galthié wanted to be reassuring. “We worked on the points for improvement, without considering that as a weak point, because discipline is a strong point for us”, insisted the coach. His troops having chained three weeks of preparation, in particular physical, in order to land in Dublin in an optimal form, the tricolor technician insisted on the rise in power of his team.

All was not perfect in Rome, but the French extended their winning streak to fourteen – a record for Les Bleus. However, Antoine Dupont’s partners land in Dublin by donning the costume of the challenger. Because the number of consecutive victories of Ireland in its lair of the Aviva Stadium is twelve – their record. New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa… for two years, all the major rugby nations have bitten the dust on the lawn of the XV of Clover. Last team to win in Dublin? Dupont and company, two years ago, at the end of “one of the toughest matches I have played”then expressed the third line Charles Ollivon (15-13 in favor of the Blues).

A disputed meeting, consequences of the pandemic linked to Covid-19 oblige, in front of empty bleachers. And on Saturday, the boiling Dublin enclosure should be full, to push the players of the XV of Clover to extend their series of invincibility – while putting an end to that of the Blues. Especially since the latter, Galthié version, look like the pet peeve of men in green. “It’s been three years since [les Irlandais perdent] against France, two years ago we won at home, they have all the motivation to be ready this weekendobserved third line Grégory Alldritt this week, eager to cross swords. They announce a stadium with an atmosphere that will be crazy, all the ingredients are there for it to be a memorable match. »

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In this meeting between two heavyweights of world rugby, who could also meet during the final stages of the World Cup, the XV of Clover intends to demonstrate its progress, incessant since its takeover by the Englishman Andy Farrell. Successor to New Zealander Joe Schmidt in 2019, the father of the current captain of the XV de la Rose, Owen Farrell, “was able to rely on the strengths of Irish rugby, a precise attacking game”greeted Fabien Galthié.

A team made up of 90% Leinster players

Irish captain Jonathan Sexton, during a match between his team and the All Blacks on July 9, 2022 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“This team has mastered its rugby to perfection for years, spoke this week the opening half Romain Ntamack, interviewed by AFP. They have been playing together for a very long time: 90% of it is made up of Leinster players, they are together all year round so, of course, they have the automatics, they know each other by heart. They are strong in all areas of the game, they have very few weaknesses, if any. »

If the place of world number one, at stake on Saturday and which will go to the winner of the game, is less important in rugby than in other sports – such as tennis – the two teams aspire to win the showdown. And compete in praise before colliding on the meadow. [Les Français] have a hell of a firepower, (…) with players capable of shaking most teamsmentioned winger James Lowe, author of a capital performance during Ireland’s big victory in Wales (34-10). It’s a world-class team. » On the tricolor side, Fabien Galthié speaks of “one of the best opponents we have faced in thirty-two games” – term of office.

Saturday, these exchanges of courtesies should give way to shocks a bit rougher. And the XV of France is aware of venturing at high altitude, much higher than the Carrauntoohil (1,038 meters), the highest point of the Verte Erin. In this year of the World Cup, negotiate well the first “peak of the year”, as turned by their coach on Thursday, will allow us to think of other peaks. “Who will stop us from dreaming? » concluded Fabien Galthié. Even if it’s not a final, fifteen men dressed in green and 51,700 fervent supporters would see themselves in this role.

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Ireland-France, Saturday February 11, (3:15 p.m. Paris time), on France 2 and live on Le


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