SportsEngland: Filled with confidence, the Blues cannot let this...

England: Filled with confidence, the Blues cannot let this Grand Slam escape


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In the middle of the presidential campaign, the Blues of Fabien Galthié replay “the quiet force”, way François Mitterrand in 1981. Even if they expect to feel the pressure of the Grand Slam when entering a boiling Stade de France, Saturday evening against England, the Blues display the serenity of Zen masters from their temple of Marcoussis.

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“The state of mind of the group is to approach the thing with lightness and enthusiasm”, thus assures Romain Ntamack. The opener with the impeccable wick and his colleagues are inevitably tired of seducing without concluding in the Six Nations Tournament since the release of “the arrow of time” two and a half years ago.

“By dint of playing, experience sets in and we learn from our mistakes, slips Grégory Alldritt, the Condom crusher. There are some games that we didn’t manage too well, like in Scotland two years ago [défaite 28-17]. “Now it’s time to take the next step, especially as the 2023 World Cup at home approaches, after the already very convincing victory over the All Blacks (40-25) last fall. And therefore to compile a fifth success in this Tournament, which would be the eighth in a row in total, unheard of for 18 years.

The most important game since 2011?

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“It’s the biggest match that France has had since the 2011 World Cup final, has dropped downright in the Times Shaun Edwards, the perfectly intractable defense manager last Friday in Cardiff (9-13). I know everyone is saying good things about us, and that’s great, but until you win a trophy, I don’t think you’re a very good team. »

So inevitably, to glean the 10th Grand Slam of French rugby, the first since 2010, that would be great. And the wind of history seems to be blowing behind the Blues. “We have the impression that all the planets are aligned with the bit of success necessary to win this kind of competition”, judges Fabien Pelous, author of four “perfects” in the venerable event (1997, 1998, 2002, 2004) .

The ball of a potential Welsh victory, inexplicably lost by center Jonathan Davies a few meters from the tricolor line, is one of the signals sent by the good fairy who watches over the destiny of Antoine Dupont and his men. “I was very afraid of this match in Cardiff and by doing the same performance, you can lose it, continues the most capped Frenchman in history (118 selections). Wales and Ireland are at our level. Scotland and England, currently, are a notch below. »

“You have all the senses awake”

That’s good, it’s our best enemies who show up last Saturday, like during the two most recent Grand Slams in 2004 (24-21) and 2010 (12-10). “It’s not that frequent an event, so you’re sure of the state of mind you’re going to put into it, you have all your senses awake, continues Pelous. I don’t have many memories of the 2004 match, more of Scotland, which we beat at the Parc des Princes (47-20 in 1997), or of Wales at Wembley (0-51 in 1998), where we were euphoric. »

Christophe Lamaison was part of the epic of the Blues in 1997 and 1998. The former opener-centre-scorer also displays his confidence in his distant heirs, whom he will support in Saint-Denis. “I dare to hope that the French are in a bubble of optimism, positive and that it is with these parameters that they will approach the match, breathes “Titou”. I want to tell them: “go ahead, have fun and make us happy”. The lights are green. »

Replaceable Blues, except Dupont?

So of course, you have to be wary of these “injured” Englishmen according to Lamaison, who fought a Homeric fight at 14 against 15 against Ireland last Sunday, before crying out for mercy (15-32). “I believe that Eddie Jones is currently more focused on his punchlines in the media, squeaks the former Brive. I still can’t figure out what the English game system is, apart from crushing the opponent. Except that we have a respondent opposite. »

Fabien Pelous approves: “We can pride ourselves on having guys in each position that you can include among the two or three best in the world. I’m not sure that’s the case with the English at the moment. In our time, you had the holders, some doubled positions but not all. At the current Blues, you can change the guys without losing quality. Well, if you lose Dupont, I’m not telling you that you’re going to have the same return. There is him and the others. »

Les Bleus after their success against England (24-21), synonymous with the Grand Slam, on March 27, 2004.
Les Bleus after their success against England (24-21), synonymous with the Grand Slam, on March 27, 2004. – Hostlet / Sipa

In the always delicate little game of comparisons between eras, Lamaison still congratulates himself 25 years later, for having made the “old” internationals, not always tender, lie. “We weren’t very popular with the elders who said we were too young to win the V Nations Tournament. Finally, we created the surprise, going in particular to beat the England of Carling, Guscott and other players with 50 selections at Twickenham [20-23 en 1997]. »

Fans everywhere, even in Germany

For the “exceptional generation” (Lamaison, always) of today, there is no need to seek this kind of motivational lever. All rugby fans, from France and elsewhere, bow down to his talent. We are reminded of the image of Theo, a fifty-year-old German who met a week ago at Cardiff Central station with his son Fabian (16), who had come specially from Bielefeld to see “the next world champions” play.

That said, the Blues seem to be safe from any crisis of “melonite” which could make them stumble on the last step towards the Grand Slam. “The French team shows us each time an astonishing face of humility, sobriety and calm”, testifies Lamaison. Zen masters who hurt opponents, but Zen masters nonetheless.

Source: 20minutes

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