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Undefeated, however not invincible… “The toughest half is but to return” for the Blues by Fabien Galthié

At the stadium of Toulouse,

At the beginning of this article, a short sequence: “Time flies… we were talking to the baker about it this morning. On November 21, 2021, the Blues joined their top 14 clubs in an ecstatic Stade de France (40-25) the day after a terrific win over the All Blacks. A year later, all stacks, Fabien Galthié’s players shared a kiss after adding 10 wins to last fall’s three wins.

Undefeated over the calendar year, Grand Slam winners, the favorites for the next home World Cup have beaten the best teams (Ireland and England in the spring, Australia and South Africa in recent weeks) and are no longer falling into the traps of the second-class teams like Japan dominated twice this summer and then again this Sunday in Toulouse (35-17).

“We saw it in Georgia’s win in Wales [12-13, samedi]November tours are always full of surprises, notes center Jonathan Danty. We didn’t want to belong. No, this team is no longer the type to be caught by the Japanese like in the last game of the Novès era in November 2017 (23-23) or beaten by the Fijians a year later during the short tenure of Jacques Brunel (14-23). -21).

Of course, when she’s stunning in the front, she doesn’t always dream in the back. And the game of systematic expropriation (stepping in abundance to popularize) sometimes yawned in the gray of the Haut-Garonne on Sunday before the anticyclone Matthieu Jalibert appeared. From there one regrets “the encouraging defeats that did not exist”, as Mathieu Lartot described them in a recent interview 20 minutes

science and pragmatism

This team wins, whether it’s quietly, like against the Brave Blossoms, or close, like against the Wallabies or the Springboks. And that’s the main thing for the very scientific and pragmatic collaborators of Fabien Galthié, who often saved the lyrical heights for his speeches to journalists this fall.

The historic record of 13 consecutive wins, current streak? “It is the result of years of work by the staff, all the players and clubs who support these players in their training, education and training. And it’s also the audience that pushes us behind. There’s a kind of dynamic behind this team that allows them to perform. »

Destination Stade de France

To hear Galthié, a whole people carry Antoine Dupont (suspended against Japan) and his apostles to the gates of paradise that is due to open on the evening of the World Cup final, October 28, 2023, at the Stade de France. “The goal is achievable [au Mondial] The coach starts with victories, a better world ranking and titles. At the moment we are in phase. But before the World Cup there is a six-nation tournament, club events and all the preparation for next summer. »

“We know the hardest is yet to come,” said Anthony Jelonch, author of the fourth try against Japan, after scoring Damian Penaud’s double and noting the amazing returnee Charles Ollivon. Toulouse’s 3rd line formula is not a simple ready-made chew product delivered to the press in the stadium’s mixed zone.

Ahead of meeting the Blacks in the opening game of the World Cup, the Blues are entitled to encounters on familiar but hostile soil during the tournament: first in Dublin against Ireland, No. 1 in World Rugby’s rankings (just ahead of France) and home of the new best player of the world, 3rd line Josh van der Flier, who dethroned our national Dupont this Sunday. Then at Twickenham against an England not in the best form of their glorious history but capable of brilliant shots, as on Saturday (25-25) 19 points in nine minutes against New Zealand.

Unless injuries are too bothersome and no new UFO lands in Marcoussis by then, the Blues set to take on these challenges should look very similar to those who attacked this fall, although certain positions may be up for discussion (previous, left winger, 3rd line winger, 2nd line).

A game that will be deciphered by the opponents

But they must offer the best version of themselves, offer more variety in a game that their opponents have decoded logically. It will also be necessary to get rid of the dross, like that annoying tendency to get an air hole during the game. Against Japan, it surfaced on the return from the dressing room and led to a great center Nakano breakthrough, which was converted into a try by scrum half Saito.

“It’s difficult to analyze, admits Ollivon, Captain, when you don’t know who you know. We’ve talked about this throughout the week, and also in the previous weeks. Sometimes it’s small individual mistakes that can put the team behind. I will remember that we were able to move forward. »

Galthié has the answer to this evil, “identified” by the tricolor frame. “You have to string together the right moves to avoid the end of strong times and the beginning of weak times. We will work on that. The continued unbeaten streak instills a confidence that will no doubt make work easier. Without serving as a guarantee, the English were stuck with 30 league wins before losing to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final (34-31) on 12 November.

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