Less than a year after the World Cup, France's XV is still looking


The Blues begin without certainties their autumn tour Saturday against South Africa, Saint-Denis.

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We have told well. Between the question and the answer, eight good seconds. How to define, to date, the game of the French rugby team? "Like most clubs"Camille Lopez, after careful consideration. "On the offensive system, there are many similaritiescontinues the opening of Clermont. Also on the defensive system. " Yes, but still? We have to wait "A movement game, structured", promises the third-line castrais Mathieu Babillot, evasive.

At the National Rugby Center auditorium, Marcoussis (Essonne), journalists are still trying to figure out, at the beginning of November. Even the players, no doubt, while this team moves forward without certainties. The national team is almost one year before the 2019 World Cup to meet again, both in its composition and in what it can "produce". Nice Japanese puzzle. Ten months and eleven heat games, starting with the three rehearsals of this autumn tour.

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Saturday, November 10, the Blues will start against the a priori opponent the strongest of the month: they will receive South Africa, in Saint-Denis, in a Stade de France that promises to be far from full. Then, on the 17th, towards the Pierre-Mauroy stadium of Villeneuve-d & Ascq (North) against Argentina. So come back on Dionysian land against Fiji, the 24th.

"Pushing our limits"

Of all this, it will be necessary to draw something, he wants to believe Baptiste Serin: "The November tour will be a good test." "Faced with these teams, we will be able to evaluate and try to push our limits"I hope the melee is half Bordeaux-Bègles. Captain Guilhem Guirado speaks of a "Detector Month". A month of Schrödinger, to make the counter of quantum physics. Or the XV of France is recovering on its feet now, or reinforces the pessimists who foresee a deadly elimination in the first round of the next World Cup. "There is always this mysterious side, continues the prostitute of Toulon, to know if we'll be meeting in front of a southern hemisphere nation at an intense pace [comme l’Afrique du Sud]. "

In Japan, the cock's team will be in the same pool as Argentina and England: the "chicken of death", as they say. Guilhem Guirado refuses for the moment to talk too much about the deadline in public. Also in the locker room, according to him: "In any case I will not talk about it before the game against South Africa, it would be a total waste to talk about the World Cup now, a very distant goal".he says.

In the immediate future, and without giving precise figures, Mathieu Bastareaud thinks rather to succeed in the next three games. The thing goes through "Victories, simply". "It's been a long time since we're talking about the commitment, the mood of the group, but we're only judged by the results, it's part of the business …" So, between a victory not beautiful to see and a nice defeat, the center three quarters of Toulon has the honesty to decide: "Obviously the way is hyper-important, but I do not mind winning a 3-0 match rather than losing 41-40 with a good game."

For having long suffered the game of chance, Baptiste Serin knows too much the importance of victory: "When the victories come together, perhaps it will give us more confidence, more freedom." The player is thinking of a particular match. This famous draw, in effect, against Japan (23-23). A good example, according to the nor 9 Bordeaux (and future Toulonnais), of the disputed match "Fear in your stomach, shaking your legs, and see the result, considering that if you come with a little confidence on this game, you win nine times out of ten.

This November 2017, the XV of France was playing his last match with Guy Novès for the coach. A month later, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) fired its national coach in the medium term. Without respecting the word given, and above all without giving it time to develop a long-term project, with the pretext of insufficient results: only seven wins, thirteen losses and a draw in two years. Since then, the case is underway in the industrial courts.

To date, even the balance of his successor remains negative: since his inauguration, Jacques Brunel has won two victories and six defeats in 2018. Of which three logical errors in June during a tour in New Zealand, for these Blues definitely the antipodes of the All Blacks, two world champions in double title.

"Find a spine"

With a little more hindsight, the new coach analyzes today "His biggest problem" : "It is not able to stabilize a central axis of our team, especially for the hinge, that we know the importance it can have.Our main objective will be to find this thorn for the team and keep it, to have stability on it . "

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Ideally, the fifteenth of France would have aligned a pivot to Clermont: Camille Lopez in the opening, Morgan Parra in mid scrum … until a wound on one wrist prevents the latter. "I lost Morgan", summarizes the first, which in turn had missed the tour in November 2017, due to the fracture of the tibia.

Like Parra, four other players called for the next tour have already had to retire before the start: Bernard Le Roux, Wesley Fofana, Rémi Lamerat and Uini Atonio. Which is very much, on a group of thirty one. Too much, too, so it's a simple guinea. The explanation is also structural: French rugby has increasingly tended its players, mobilizing them in the club as in the national selection.

Jacques Brunel has still found valid players to start against South Africa. Experimental composition. This XV will be presented with four players in full learning phase: the centers Geoffrey Doumayrou, Damian Penaud (who will play wing, for the occasion), the second level Arthur Iturria (tested third-line), and the Pillar Cedate Gomes Sa. Everyone has less than ten games in the selection.

Never selected among their countries of origin, the South African Paul Willemse (Montpellier) and the Fijian Alivereti Raka (Clermont) would have gladly sang The Marseillaisethey too. According to the newspaper L & # 39; Equipe, Jacques Brunel counted on them on this November tour. but "You have to wait until they have a French passport"finally, declared Bernard Laporte, the president of the FFR. Believe that the XV of France, for the time being only 8is in the world rankings, try up to the prefectural offices of Hérault and Puy-de-Dôme.


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