winners of Ireland, the promises of the XV of France

Romain Ntamack scored a try on Saturday against Ireland

Fifty seconds is the price of a coronation. Within fifty seconds, the XV of France would have won its first Six Nations Tournament for ten years, Saturday, October 31. If Antoine Dupont had not anticipated the end of the “Crunch”, nine months earlier, and released in touch thinking the game was over with less than a minute to play, the French joy on Saturday could have been quite different. But with “ifs”, the oval rugby ball would be round. In the empty immensity of the Stade de France, the Blues ended their tournament with a bold victory against Ireland (35-27), and finished second in the Six Nations, their best ranking since 2011.

Relive the encounter: Six nations: victory, the offensive bonus but no title for the Blues against Ireland

“We finish tied with England”, was satisfied the coach Fabien Galthié after the meeting. With eighteen points and four wins in five games, the new version of the Blues has returned to the discussion for the final victory, after a decade of famine. “This team has improved a lot”, admitted the Irish captain, Jonathan Sexton, after the meeting.

Faced with one of the best defenses in world rugby, the task of the France team was not easy. Because the English did not miss their weekend in Rome. Winners enhanced by pale Azzuri (5-34) on Saturday, the teammates of Ben Youngs, double test scorer, have fulfilled the conditions allowing them to access the trophy. And put pressure on the thirty actors of the Stade de France, who before the anthems, knew the procedure to follow. Unless you put Ireland at thirty-one points, the final victory would escape the Blues.

Lack of discipline, but a lot of realism

Failing to fulfill this almost impossible mission, the squad led by Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont – one try each – signed a victory full of control against the Irish. A nation used to beating France for ten years (eight victories in the last nine games). Poorly disciplined – eight penalties conceded in the first period, fourteen in total – the Blues, on the other hand, showed realism, scoring four tries (including one penalty).

But they never managed to break away from solid Irishmen, also vying for the final victory. Rather than pocketing the points, the XV of Clover often played the offensive: “We knew we had to win the game by more than six points, so we tried to score more tries than the French”, exposed Jonathan Sexton. In vain, Ireland cedes its crown to the English, despite a final try at the end of the meeting.

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“We are satisfied because we have just achieved a convincing victory against Ireland, with a bonus point”, greeted Fabien Galthié after the meeting. “We knew we had time to do the four tries. We grabbed, grappled, and we got the bonus, which was our strategy. But that was not enough “, completed its captain, Charles Ollivon.

In top-level rugby, everything is played down to the last detail. Since taking office, nearly a year ago in the village of Montgesty (Lot), stronghold of the Galthié family, Raphaël Ibanez and Fabien Galthié have never stopped hammering him. Saturday, their Blues fulfilled their mission, to win against Ireland. But if they finish at their best ranking for nine years, Antoine Dupont’s teammates know their mission for the months to come: to eliminate imperfections. In these Blues freed from doubt, clothed by previous generations like a second skin, all is not perfect. And the “Arrow of time” dear to Fabien Galthié must still be polished before getting involved in his target – the 2023 World Cup, played in France.

“This is only the beginning of the story”

Author of a game – and a tournament – of high flight, it would be difficult to blame Antoine Dupont for his mistake at the end of the match against England in early February. A premature release in touch, offering an ultimate ammunition finally improved. And a defensive bonus point won by the XV de la Rose in Saint-Denis, which costs – with the defeat in Scotland – the gain of the tournament to the Blues.

In an empty stadium due to Covid-19, the Blues celebrated the end of the competition alone. And danced without an audience. “It’s the end of the tournament and the beginning of the story, we must take advantage of these moments”, whispered Charles Ollivon after the meeting. “We are very satisfied with what we went through, but this is only the beginning of the story”, completed his trainer.

The Blues finish at their best ranking since 2011.

“Our goal was to win matches quickly, we did that, underlined Fabien Galthié. Winning titles, we did not do it because if we are first tied, it is England who wins the tournament. “ On condition of erasing the imperfections of their game – starting with the multiple marks of indiscipline -, the autumn promises of these young Blues may augur an azure future.


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