French rugby union dreams of a founding weekend

A historic weekend? Rugby League has been struggling for years to come out of the rut, a nice cousin of the game of XV but always in its shadow, reduced to a piece of Occitania which maintains a pale flame. But now this Saturday, October 9, the Catalan Dragons of Perpignan spin to Manchester to challenge St Helens in the final of the Super League, the English championship in which the French club has participated since 2006, the only one admitted to play in the most upscale European competitions in discipline. The Dragons therefore have the opportunity to become the first foreign champion of the event.

→ INVESTIGATION. Rugby Union plays the security card

And now, the next day, Sunday, October 10, Toulouse Olympique XIII receives Featherstone in the Championship final, the second English division in which the Pink City club has participated since 2017, the only foreigner included in this championship which offers its winner the accession to the prestigious Super League. The Toulouse residents are therefore very close to joining the Dragons, a dream they have cherished for more than a decade.

Successful professionalization

“All of this is the result of hard work”, asks Bernard Guasch, the president of the Dragons. For four years, around Steve McNamara, the former coach of the England team (from 2010 to 2015), the club has strengthened to erase this lack of consistency that it is often criticized by specialists across the Channel. “We have made a big effort on training, in order to add foreign playersyoung French people finally performing ”, explains Bernard Guasch. Toulouse Olympique has also bet on a very high-end workforce by carrying out a three-star recruitment for this season.

→ ANALYSIS. For the Bleues du rugby, a year of wave to the soul

The two clubs are based, it is true, on a more solid financial base, “A professionalization which allows us this constant progression”, sums up Bernard Sarrazain, at the helm of the “TO” for nine years, and who also welcomes the big blow achieved this year: an agreement signed with the Toulouse Stadium, under which the Quinzist club welcomes its cousin in its Ernest stadium. Walloon. “Which proves that we can overcome the old sterile quarrels”applauds Bernard Sarrazain.

The club also benefits from numerous partners from the “Oval Table” which brings together 300 local sponsors, one of the city’s most popular entrepreneur networks. The TO budget (3.6 million euros) should double in the event of a rise in the Super League, thanks in particular to television rights multiplied by eight to reach 1.5 million euros.

The TO, however, would approach the Super League with almost half the resources of the Catalan Dragons, now with more than 11 million in budget, including 4.5 million generated by private sponsors, some of them national. “A derby with the TO in the Super League, that would be great, enthuses Bernard Guasch. I hope that we will thus draw other French clubs, while participating in the emergence of a beautiful team of France. “

Finally revitalize the French team

This is the last stage of the rocket, the one that is still missing. “The French rugby union team has been chasing good results for decades, underlines the historian Mike Rylance, English of his state but specialist in the game to XIII in the Hexagon. It will still take time to bring out enough promising young players capable of competing with their English counterparts. But the time has finally come for optimism. “

Elected in December 2020, the new Federal President Luc Lacoste does not fail to punctuate his speech. “Today, we are finally all moving forward together: the triptych is the Dragons, the TO, the France team. We have overhauled our training system, we are launching an unrivaled recruitment campaign. The planets, it seems to me, are lining up. The nations of the South which dominate the discipline are starting to look at us. “

In the same vein, France is suddenly a candidate for the organization of the 2025 World Cup. It should be able to measure the level of its Blues from next October 23, in Perpignan, during a hot France-England. The Dragons, Toulouse, the Blues, and why not three consecutive victories?


The 2025 World Cup in France?

This is the dream pursued by the new Federal President Luc Lacoste: to organize the Rugby Union World Cup in 2025. The last time France alone hosted the event was in 1972. Australia, nation flagship of the discipline, would look favorably on the French candidacy. “I also recently met Bernard Laporte, the president of the XV Federation, who assured me of full support., says Luc Lacoste. Which proves that yesterday’s wars are over. We share the same ball. We are pushing in the same direction. “



Football: French and Belgians in place for the 2018 revenge

In football tournaments, this match would be called a consoling one. In other words, a meeting for butter organized so that everyone goes home happy with a lot. This semi-final of the League of Nations between France and Belgium, Thursday, October 7, looks like a stopgap for two major nations of European football, disappointed by their journey during the last Euro. France, the reigning world champion, was taken out of this tournament in the round of 16 by Switzerland. Belgium, third in the 2018 Russian World Cup, only made one more lap, eliminated in the quarter by the future Italian winner.

→ READ. Euro 2021: the Blues fall from the top

Created in 2018 to replace the tunnels of friendly matches without sporting stakes or big interest for televisions and sponsors, this second edition of the League of Nations is the perfect opportunity for Didier Deschamps’ men to redeem themselves. “We must not minimize this competition (…). This will not erase what happened, the Euro is behind us (…) there is a title at stake, we have a semi-final to play against one of the best teams in the world ”, he explained Monday 4 at a press conference.

Worrying performances after the Euro

Since this disastrous last quarter of an hour of the Euro against Switzerland, when the Blues were caught in the score before losing on penalties in overtime, the group had lost ground. The worrying draws against Bosnia and Ukraine in early September in qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup had hit the nail on the head. Fortunately, the Benzema-Griezmann festival, a few days later against Finland (2-0), had put things in place and incidentally, almost qualified the Blues for Qatar. While bringing to light the puzzle of the attack.

Two, without Kylian Mbappé (injured), the Blues had found their way to the goal thanks to an Antoine Griezmann flourished in a role of leader. What will happen to three with Mbappé, against Belgium, in the ineffective configuration of the Euro? If Benzema and Griezmann seem indisputable in the device of the boss of the Blues, he sent the young Parisian a clear message during the show Telefoot, Sunday October 3. “The altruistic and collective Mbappé against Manchester City is the one I want to see”, he asserted. In other words, that his star player finds the spirit that allowed Paris SG to overthrow the champion of England in the Champions League, everything will be fine. If he plays personal and gets annoyed with his teammates like lately in a club, beware …

→ CHRONICLE. Euro 2021, the lost illusions

Station also behind, because the offensive festival against Finland (2-0) should not forget that the French deficiencies during the Euro were initially defensive. Until the Finnish good fortune, the Blues had taken the bad habit for months to concede the first goal of each game. During this last match, the boss had innovated by composing a defense to three, instead of the usual quartet. Which had worked pretty well.

A rivalry that sometimes got out of hand

Crucial for the blue crew of Captain Lloris, this meeting is also important for the Red Devils, who have revenge to take. Number one in the ranking of nations by virtue of great consistency in recent years (France is fourth), the band of Eden Hazard dreamed big until their missed European quarter-final against Italy. And still has not digested the semi-final lost in Russia against France, which had left the Belgians a bitter taste. “We lose against a team that is not better than us”, lamented goalkeeper Thibault Courtois. “I would rather lose with this Belgium than win with this France”, had assured Eden Hazard.

These words had sharpened the traditional rivalry between the two neighbors. If the Belgians have regularly won in recent years in a friendly match, they have lost the major official matches (5-0 at the 1984 euro, and 4-2 in the small final for the 3e place at the 1986 World Cup). “The rivalry has always been there, but it is healthy and sporty, tempers Didier Deschamps, but there is everything that happened outside, in the comments, there must have been excesses on both sides, because we are in the interpretations of hot words which have certainly taken on too much importance. “



Paralympic Games: Nathan Maillet, the future of adapted French para-swimming

This Thursday, September 2 at dawn, French time, Nathan Maillet, 22, will try to reach the final of the 100 meters backstroke. Suffering from autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the swimmer from Loudun (Vienne) dreams of equaling the performance of Alicia Mandin, the first and only French swimmer in adapted sport to have qualified for the final of the Paralympic Games (on the 100m breaststroke). It was in London, in 2012.

→ READ. Paralympic Games: cyclist Alexandre Léauté wins fourth medal

Bertrand Sebire, the national trainer at the adapted para-swimming France pole, in Vichy (Allier) did not expect his protégé, whose development he has closely followed since 2012, to return to France covered with Paralympic charms: “He’s still very young. We wanted to see how he was going to perform at these Games and use this working base to prepare for Paris 2024. ”

Control your emotions and overcome the pressure

But the specialist believes in the potential of this born competitor, whose enthusiasm he appreciates. “He came to Tokyo to improve his lap times and especially to have fun, he swears. Its size (2.10 meters), its scale and its explosiveness offer it all the panel of the champion. “ On a technical level, he still has to seek to improve his “Swimming range”, to reduce the movements of the arms to save money, however, notes the coach.

→ MAINTENANCE. Paralympic Games: “Let’s show that disabled athletes exist and perform well”

This hypersensitive will also have to control his emotions and overcome the pressure, which undoubtedly invaded him when he entered the competition, Friday August 27: in 200 meters freestyle S14, Nathan Maillet was not able to qualify. for the final, failing sixth place in his series. “He was very angry with himself. All the more so since he repeated the race in training a few hours later, achieving a better time ”, says his trainer.

A “source of fulfillment and pride”

Whatever the result of the night, this participation in the Paralympic Games remains a “Source of fulfillment and pride for Nathan”, observes Catherine Maillet, her mother, who was unable to come to support her in Tokyo due to health restrictions. Autonomous, the young man, who lives alone in an apartment in Loudun (Vienne), measures how far he has come since his first French adapted swimming championships, in Saint-Yrieix in 2009.

→ PORTRAIT. Paralympic Games: for Marie-Amélie Le Fur, “sport is the best way to cope with your handicap”

It was there that he met Bertrand Sebire, “A decisive meeting”, according to his mother. On his own, he went to ask the coach how to integrate the French selection. From there, it all started. For us, his parents, hope was reborn ”, she remembers.

Regain self-confidence

At the same time, they realize that Nathan is able to learn to read, write and count, and that he wants to. His parents immediately engage in a daily learning process, ” which certainly helped him gain self-confidence ”, she continues. A confidence that is reflected in his performance: he became champion of France in 2016 and European champion Virtus (1) the same year.

A year later, he won the title ofworld champion in 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle. The icing on the cake, he won with the Blues that of4x50m freestyle relay. And it was in 2018 that he opened the door to the Paralympic event at the World Adapted Swimming Championships, organized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

In civilian life, everything he has done recently has smiled on him. In less than two years, Nathan Maillet obtained his first aid certificate, his driver’s license, got civic service at a swimming club. There is only one place missing in the final tonight to fill him with joy.



Paralympic Games: Charles-Antoine Kouakou, 6th French gold medal

After the tandem in cycling, it is now the turn of athletics and sprinting to put France in the spotlight at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, thanks to the great victory of Charles-Antoine Kouakou at the end of the final of the 400 meters category T20 (races for people with intellectual disabilities).

→ READ. Paralympic Games: the Lloveras-Ermenault tandem wins a 5th French gold medal

For his first Games, the 23-year-old sprinter claimed the Paralympic title and brought the total of French medals to 33, just two units from the goal set at 35 before the event.

3e French adapted sport medal

The native of Paris completed the lap in 47 seconds 63, ahead of Venezuelan Luis Felipe Rodriguez Bolivar (47 seconds 71) and Briton Columba Blango (47 seconds 81).

It is also the third medal of French adapted sport, the counterpart of disabled sports for people with cognitive disabilities, since Léa Ferney (silver) and Lucas Créange (bronze) had paved the way in table tennis. Finally, this is the fifth podium in French Paralympic athletics after notably the silver medal of the president of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee Marie-Amélie Le Fur, in the long jump (category T64).



Paralympic Games: the Lloveras-Ermenault tandem wins a 5th French gold medal

France occupies the 13e rank in the medal table of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, after the gold obtained by the pair Alexandre Lloveras and Corentin Ermenault. They both achieved a fifth French victory on Tuesday, August 31, after winning the tandem road time trial.

→ READ. Paralympic Games: Fabien Lamirault offers France a 4th gold medal

Vice-world champion of the specialty, the French pair associating the cyclists Alexandre Lloveras, visually impaired from birth, to the former professional Corentin Ermenault, won in front of the Dutch pair of reigning Paralympic champions for a little less than seven seconds on a course of 32 kilometers.

The first Games of Alexander Lloveras

The French duo, created only in November, left frustrated with their fourth place on the track in the individual pursuit. They were aiming for gold at the Izu velodrome, with the help of Corentin Ermenault, bronze medalist in pursuit at the last World Championships for able-bodied people.

This is the first Paralympic Games for 20-year-old Alexander Lloveras, who only came to cycling in 2018 after practicing high-level athletics.

He explained to AFP last week that he had “Stars in the eyes” by learning of his association with Corentin Ermenault, 25, former professional peloton within the Vital Concept team who had confided to have “Burns out the bike” before finding his way back with Alexandre.



French footballer Benjamin Mendy accused of rape and suspended by his club

The French international defender of Manchester City Benjamin Mendy, 27, accused of four rapes and one sexual assault, was remanded in custody, the British justice ruled on Friday August 27.

Wearing black sweatpants and a red hoodie, Benjamin Mendy appeared before a court in Chester (north-west of England) where the judge decided his remand in custody. The footballer only spoke to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

The facts, denounced by three people over 16, said the police in their press release, would have taken place between October 2020 and August 2021.

A few minutes before the police announced the subject of the complaint, the Manchester City club, where he has played since 2017, announced the player’s suspension, without revealing the subject of the investigation of which he was the target. “Manchester City can confirm that after his indictment by the police today, Benjamin Mendy was suspended for the duration of the investigation”, write the Citizens in a press release.

“The case is the subject of legal proceedings and the club cannot, for this reason, make any further comments, until it is completed”, adds the Mancunian club.

Recruited for nearly 60 million euros

To recruit Mendy, revealed in Marseille and spent only one season by Monaco, City had spent 52 million pounds (nearly 60 million EUR), making at the time of the young French left-back the most expensive defender in history.

But his career has since been punctuated by injuries, like his cruciate ligament rupture in 2017, forcing Mendy to spend more time treating his knees and muscle ailments than kicking a ball. The French international (10 caps), has only played 75 matches with City over the last four seasons, including that of the first day against Tottenham, lost 1 to 0.

He had also delighted the tabloids when his Lamborghini Aventador SVJ was seized with a value of more than 500,000 euros in the fall of 2020, which he was driving without a license or insurance. He finally pleaded guilty and was fined just over 1,000 euros.



Paralympic Games: the first French medal for Marie Patouillet

Cyclist Marie Patouillet opened the French team’s counter at the Tokyo Paralympic Games on Wednesday August 25 from the first day of competition, winning the bronze medal on the track in the individual pursuit (category C5).

→ ANALYSIS. Tokyo Games: Paralympism in full swing

“I don’t really realize. For my first Games, first event and first medal ”, reacted the 33-year-old tracker, more of a sprint specialist.

Great medal chances again on Friday

She is also trained by Grégory Baugé, quadruple world champion in individual speed and silver medalist in the same event at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

In Japan, hope sparked by the Paralympic Games

General practitioner, the para-cyclist, born with a defect in one foot, has great chances of medal again Friday in the 500 meters standing start, her specialty of which she is vice-world champion (2020) and bronze medalist (2019) .

Arriving late in cycling, Marie Patouillet had a revelation by running the stage of the Tour cyclotouriste in 2017. She was one of France’s first serious chances of medals in individual pursuit, with the pair Alexandre Lloveras – Corentin Ermenault in the same discipline but on tandem.

Until September 5, 539 gold medals will be contested between 4,400 para-athletes, including a few stars such as the German long jumper Markus Rehm, nicknamed “Blade Jumper” due to its carbon prosthesis blade.



Tokyo Olympics: French foilists Olympic champions

They gave the Blues their fifth gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The French foilists won the Olympic title against the Russians competing under the neutral flag (45-28), Sunday 1er August in Chiba.

The French, finalists in Rio against the Russians, thus won their first men’s foil title since Sydney-2000. This is the 21e French medal in Tokyo.

In the final, Enzo Lefort, 2019 world champion, and Erwann le Pechoux, both silver medalists at Rio-2016, as well as Julien Mertine, did not have much trouble to dominate (45-28) the twin brothers Anton and Kirill Borodachev (21), until then only titled in the juniors, supported by Timur Safin, who was already part of the Russian Olympic champion team in Rio.

Revenge on Rio

Without really trembling, despite a few more laborious stints, the Blues, who had lost in Rio after dominating a good part of the match, took their revenge. With five medals, including two titles (boys in foil and Romain Cannone in épée), French fencing in Tokyo is doing better than in Rio-2016 (3 medals, including one title).

→ REPORT. Tokyo Olympics: French foilists get silver medal

Manon Brunet won bronze in saber on Monday, foilists Ysaora Thibus, Pauline Ranvier, Astrid Guyart and Anita Blaze brought in silver from Tokyo on Thursday, as did sabers Manon Brunet, Cécilia Berder, Sara Balzer and Charlotte Lembach, Saturday.



Tokyo Olympics: French athletics in search of a new lease of life

“French athletics looking for a medalist”. The ad could have been passed as it is, as the discipline seems to be going through a bad patch among the French. A sad anniversary reminds him of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, that of nine years without a gold medal – the last dates back to London, in 2012, won by Renaud Lavillenie on pole vault.

In running, the last title even dates from a time that the under 20s cannot know: 1996, with the two victories of Marie-José Pérec, over 200 and 400 meters.

→ READ. French sportsmen find their colors in Tokyo

Beyond the quest for the ultimate reward, France does not seem able to achieve the six medals gleaned in Rio in 2016, even if the potential is “From five to six medals”, according to the president of the French athletics federation, André Giraud, who sets the objective of “Regain an Olympic title”. But among the contingent of 66 athletes, barely a handful can claim the coronation in Tokyo.

Kevin Mayer in the thorny favorite costume

One of the expected figures is already out of the game: Mélina Robert-Michon, the Olympic vice-champion in the discus throw. For her sixth Games, she was ousted in qualifying, Saturday July 30, to everyone’s surprise. Another seems weakened: Renaud Lavillenie, who returns from an ankle injury. He went very close to elimination before getting his ticket to the final, scheduled for Tuesday, August 3.

→ LARGE FORMAT. Tokyo Olympics: Mélina Robert-Michon, everything for a gold record

There remains Kevin Mayer, the silver decathlete in Rio, and world record holder since. He will hit the track on Wednesday August 4 with the thorny favorite costume. The Hammer Throwers Alexandra Tavernier (4e world) and Quentin Bigot (5e) could also achieve the feat.

Significant deficiencies in the sprint

But behind these headliners, French athletics is struggling. Especially in the sprint, where the deficiencies are important. A single representative in the 100 meters for men: Jimmy Vicaut, released in the semifinals on Sunday 1er August after a season complicated by injuries and a lack of races. No representative among women. The reverse at 200 meters. It stalls, we are in a hollow, recognizes André Giraud. There were times when we had immense champions. But nothing is linear in sport. “

In the middle distance, the hopes of the final were showered for Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, the 2017 world champion over 800 m, sixth in his semi-final on Sunday 1er August, in pain. But the young Gabriel Tual (23), third in his race, managed to qualify on time.

“The Paris Games will arrive very quickly”

It is on this young guard that the France team counts for 2024. Behind the known figures, there are indeed all those ” who were not yet born when Mélina Robert-Michon discovered the Games in 2000, in Sydney ”, in the words of Florian Rousseau, the director of high performance. In Tokyo, their results are not yet at the rendezvous: Cyréna Samba-Mayela (20 years old) did not start the 100 m hurdles after a pain felt during the warm-up and the pole vaulter Ethan Cormont (20 years) failed to qualify for the pole vault final.

→ ANALYSIS. Olympics: in Tokyo, Paris 2024 in sight for the French

Sprinter Gémima Joseph (19) is expected in the 200m on Monday August 2. Ludovic Ouceni (20 years old) on 4 x 400 m on Friday August 6. “We are already working on this young generation, the Paris Games will arrive very quickly”, put Florian Rousseau. The harvest of medals at the European hopefuls championship in Tallinn (Estonia) in July may augur well for a bright future.

The “Insep syndrome”

To make sure of this, one of the important axes of work today relates to the accompaniment of the overseas hopes, which always represented “An important contribution”, notes André Giraud. In Tokyo, ten of the Blues of the delegation are from overseas.

The federation has lost many of these promising young people by wanting at all costs to support them at the National Institute of Sport in Paris. What the president calls the ” Insep syndrome “. It is absolutely necessary to put in place a system that allows you to pursue your career without family uprooting., he continues. This requires in particular the close relations that we have with local communities..

Ludvy Vaillant, 26, will not say the opposite. He still trains on his native island, Martinique. It is important to stay at home. Champions train with their entourage. Why should we ultramarines leave our environment?, he supports after his elimination in the semi-finals of the 400 m hurdles on Sunday 1er August. Before making a wish: “We should put in place more infrastructure. In Martinique, we only have two good quality stadiums, which is not enough. “



Tokyo Olympics: French basketball players fail to overthrow the American mountain

The step was too high, but they seemed to have the stature to take it. French basketball players lost to the Americans (82-87) in the Olympic final of the basketball tournament in Saitama, 30 km north of Tokyo, on Saturday, August 7. The “Team USA” thus won its sixteenth gold medal in nineteen appearances at the Olympic Games.

At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective

The French leader, Nicolas Batum, has his arms folded and staring into space. But from the defeat, he prefers to draw a reason for rejoicing: “ Not being satisfied with ourselves when we win an Olympic medal is a good thing. French basketball has come to this!

First medal in 21 years

Because the course of the France team in Tokyo was until then a faultless one: no defeat since the start of the tournament, a victory against the United States in pools and a semi-final snatched by a point against Slovenia Thursday. Enough to give wings to a team returning from a long crossing of the desert at the Olympics: the last finals, lost, dated from 2000 and 1948.

Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games: the adventure of 3 x 3 basketball has started well

On Saturday, the opponent was a cut above. “ We knew we had a mountain in front of us. They have individualities which are far above what we can play every day “, summarizes Nando de Colo. The American train was pulled by a locomotive: Kevin Durant, 29 points all by himself. Imperial.

Lots of bullet losses

The Blues however believed in it until the end, even coming back to three points ten seconds from the end. In vain. The 18 ball losses and the 11 missed free throws throughout the game weigh heavily in the balance, and feed regrets.

We made several mistakes, regrets coach Vincent Collet, in office since 2009. But I’m proud of my players, we played with heart and intelligence. Tonight there was a real match He adds, even forgetting that the dial indicates 2:30 p.m. as he speaks.

The final was indeed held at 11:30 am in Saitama. Unusual schedule for players but tailor-made for American viewers (10:30 p.m.): the giant American broadcaster NBC weighs heavily when it comes to negotiating with the IOC the calendar of basketball events.

In Tokyo, the Olympic Games on the sly

Behind closed doors, the final nevertheless took place in front of nearly a thousand people: Games volunteers, members of delegations and journalists from all over the world. Not enough to fill the 21,000 seats in the Saitama Super Arena, however. The speakers in the room therefore spat out a confusing false audience soundtrack, similar to the hubbub of a restaurant room.

The Blues won in Saitama the 28th French medal of the Tokyo Games. And take a date for the next deadline: “ We are a young group who do not yet have a lot of experience together, explains Evan Fournier, author of 16 points. We are going up, we were 3rd at the World Cup in China in 2019, we are 2e here. We have to keep climbing. »So that the mountain is no longer inaccessible.