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Rugby: the Blues still on the path to success



There are only four minutes left in a meeting that the Blues watch escape, badly in their legs and clumsy against Australians much more dashing than expected. Will they be the executioners of the XV of France again, these men from the antipodes who are the last to have defeated them in July 2021? The score on the Stade de France scoreboard is 29-25 in favor of the visitors.

So the stands launch into a Marseillaise out of the blue, summoning the energy of despair. And the Blues suddenly find the opening. A model jump pass from Matthieu Jalibert, a swaying dance from tightrope walker Damian Penaud, erasing with a sharp hook and a din slicing two opponents to flatten the winning try, and here are the Blues victorious on the wire ( 30-29). Moment of grace.

A group that adapts and reacts

This XV of France thus achieves an eleventh consecutive success, and beats an old record dating back to the 1930s, when the Blues of yesteryear, a time excluded from the Six Nations Tournament, had managed a series of ten against “small” teams. such as Italy and Germany. Suffice to say that today dominating all the nations encountered since the summer of 2021 is a performance of another scope.

Coach Fabien Galthié talks about ” pride “. Captain Antoine Dupont rather evokes the following: “It just makes us want to do more in the coming months. » The Blues inevitably turn their gaze towards this World Cup which is looming at home from September 8 to October 28, 2023. The final campaign which must lead to the Holy Grail has begun, and Fabien Galthié does not fail to mention the importance of garner as much confidence as possible before the deadline.

The short result against Australia is to be read in this light. Yes, the Blues proved to be borrowed for more than twenty minutes at the start of each period: fragile conquest, game launches at half mast, meager inspiration at the foot. It’s a lot. But they finally prevailed.

And the coach to praise his group’s ability to adapt and react. “The victory validates the choices we have made since the beginning of this mandatehe analyzed after the meeting. Both the choices of method, consistency, but also the choices on the players selected. »

The XV of France strategist underlines the youth of his troops, not so much on their age, which is slowly increasing (26.5 years on average for the group against the Wallabies), but on their common past in the jersey (23 selections on average only). “When I look at the others, I see that we are often, if not always, the team that has a collective experience below the best. So we are on a path…”

Bite everything from here to the Mondial

Everything is certainly not definitively stalled with these Blues who do not yet have comprehensive insurance. But the certainties are piling up, and it is not for nothing that Fabien Galthié evokes a XV “premium”, with ever more clearly identified executives. Hence the tenure of the pillar Cyril Baille or the opener Romain Ntamack, even if the two players are coming back from injuries and still seem to lack rhythm. The return of former captain Charles Ollivon, also elected man of the match, also contributes to this quest for consistency.

Even if the margin of progress is still real, the Blues in any case want to let go of nothing on the road to the World Cup. “It’s important to arrive at the World Cup thinking that we can beat everyoneinsisted Gaël Fickou, the most capped of the Blues (72 selections), at the dawn of this autumn tour. Without lacking in humility, our goal is to remain undefeated and take first place in the world rankings. » The XV of France is still second behind Ireland, and closely followed by South Africa.

And it is precisely the South Africans who are looming on November 12 in Marseille, before Japan on the 20th in Toulouse. If the Blues are up to their ambitions, it is another historic record that they can go for: that of the most consecutive victories (18) at international level, which New Zealand co-holds (between August 2015 and October 2016) and England (between October 2015 and March 2017). For that, it would be necessary to devour this autumn tour and another grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament in the spring of 2023. Then will come the World Cup which it would be a question of finally winning…

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