All players will tell you: the oval ball is not the most appropriate when it comes to rebounding. However, this is the task that awaits the XV of France, two weeks after their defeat in Ireland (19-32) on the second day of the Six Nations Tournament; a setback that put an end to the series of fourteen victories of the Blues.
“We have fallen, we must get up”, insisted the tricolor coach, Fabien Galthié, Friday, February 24, when announcing the group brought to face Scotland, Sunday at 4 p.m., at the Stade de France. Opposed to an XV du Chardon more pungent than ever, which arrives in France with two successes improved in rank and will present there her “best team”the Blues will have a lot to do.
“The dynamic is not the same”, conceded second line Romain Taofifenua. But he promised: “We will do everything to regain victory this weekend! » “Today, we are still in a position to win [les Six Nations], argued Karim Ghezal, the co-coach of the Blues, in charge of the conquest. We saw it in 2020: the English came to lose with us and they won the Tournament. In 2021, we were in a position to win it in the last game. » No question therefore, for the French, to let themselves be beaten by their first defeat for more than a year, and on the lawn of the world number ones in addition.
Especially since, after preparation and the start of competition which saw them move from Capbreton (Landes) to Rome and Dublin, the Blues found their “base” of Marcoussis (Essonne). ” It feels good ! It’s cool, we find our bearingsrejoiced Romain Taofifenua this week. We can’t wait to get back to our stadium too. The fervor at the Stade de France is just enormous, the public is always behind us. Frankly, it helps us a lot in difficult times. »
“We have to raise our level”
If the rain that came to water the lawn of the National Rugby Center on Wednesday may have made some people regret the Roman sun, the XV of France is counting on the atmosphere “at home” to push it against the last opponent who came to win at Saint-Denis – at the very end of the 2021 Tournament. But the latter does not intend to dismantle. “If we want to be the team we believe we can be, a great atmosphere should not prevent us from playing”, warned Gregor Townsend, the Scottish coach, at the launch of this edition of the Six Nations, at the end of January.
In constant progress for a few years, the XV du Chardon – “more talented than ever”, according to England coach Steve Borthwick – has made a successful debut in the competition. Winners in England for their entry into the running, Finn Russell’s partners went on to face Wales – both times with the offensive bonus – and are, with Ireland, the only ones still capable of achieving the Grand Slam.
“We have two wins and that’s cool. But we will have to be much better if we want to beat France at home.said Scottish center Sione Tuipulotu this week, before assuring that his team “has not yet played [son] full potential ». Aware of having to raise their voices against the defending champions, the Scots therefore intend to offer a major challenge to the Blues.
The XV of France, which had somewhat forgotten how to lose, must now learn to get up. “It was interesting to live this defeat, to analyze it and to try to understand what are the keys to being even better”, argued Fabien Galthié. Beyond the match this Sunday, his troops are aiming for victory in the World Cup at home in the fall (September 8-October 28). The recipe is already known: “You have to raise our level – physique, technique and strategy – and do it simultaneously to win this type of match. »
If he replaced the first line Uini Atonio, pillar of the team suspended for two games, by Mohamed Haouas, the French technician chose to trust the same group to restart the machine after the Dublin hitch. “Our players have proven against different opponents that they are capable of meeting any challenge”, he insisted. Since taking office, underlines the person concerned, his team has won 80% of its meetings. A percentage that the Blues will certainly be keen to raise against Scotland.