There is excitement, stress, a little worry and above all a lot of emotion. In recent years, rarely the XV of France has raised so many expectations. Moribond, downgraded, excluded from the concert of the great nations, French rugby has the opportunity this Saturday against Ireland (9:05 p.m., France 2) in a Stade de France still behind closed doors to invite itself again to the prize list of a competition that has eluded him for 10 years. The teammates of captain Charles Ollivon are 80 minutes from the first feat for this selection of young firsts – the starting XV this Saturday shows an average age of 25 for 16 selections – brooded by coach Fabien Galthié and manager Raphaël Ibanez .
But here is if crowning there is, the latter will be celebrated in a context that the duo of technicians would have dreamed more conducive to the outpouring of joy. The closed session imposed by sanitary conditions will probably not give rise to a lap of honor in front of empty stands. And the announcement of confinement that fell in full preparation for the match forced the staff of the XV of France to take into account an unprecedented context, weighed down by the attack in Nice.
“Sport must be valued in this dark period”
“We have an additional mission, recognizes Ibanez. Bring a little light, a few smiles… for a few moments in front of the television for all these people, these supporters who are preparing to suffer. “The former hooker and captain of the Blues (98 caps) admits:” We are no strangers to what is happening around us. The Habs will also play for all the amateur sport put to a stop by the decisions of the government and which must henceforth live its activity by proxy. The jerseys released by Antoine Dupont or Romain Ntamack will bear the names of the 1,941 amateur clubs in France, including the one where the international was formed.
Could the heavy and heavy context cut the legs of the Blues or on the contrary prove to be galvanizing? “It is a complicated context but which can act as an emotional lever to give pleasure and make people vibrate, analyzes Hugo Cailhol, sports psychologist in Toulouse. Players must be able to switch from a state of mind where they may be preoccupied to one where they are focused on the game. Some do it better than others. “The specialist also believes that” sport must be valued in this climate and this dark period. There is the need to come together and be united. Rugby culture embodies these values. “
Ireland, the European benchmark
A French success in the 2020 Six Nations Tournament, a very particular vintage interrupted last March one day from the end, would validate the approach of Galthié and his team started after the 2019 World Cup. During the spring confinement, the staff has succeeded in developing the team spirit born of victories against England (24-17), Italy (35-22) and Wales (27-23). WhatsApp threads have heated up as Camille Chat indicated. “All the coaches called us, remembers the Racing 92 hooker. We continued to write to each other about the groups and keep abreast of the news. We never lost too much distance between us. “
A voluntary strategy intended not to bring down the breath, especially after the defeat in Scotland (28-17) which took place nine days before the start of confinement. “Fabien Galthié’s message was very clear from the start,” says Laurent Labit, the three-quarter coach. He made it a goal for us to use this situation ( Editor’s note: confinement ) To progress. “The tensions between the League and the federation born from the provision of internationals could have damaged all this beautiful building. Tensions which have loosened the emerging links without breaking them.
To finally win the Six Nations Tournament, the Blues will have to put aside these picrocholine quarrels and get rid of the benchmark of recent years on the Old Continent, Ireland. With its two strategists at the maneuver, Sexton and Murray, who have already been associated 61 times in international meetings, the XV du Trèfle has won three Tournaments (2014, 2015 and 2018), the last of which with the Grand Slam at stake. A prosperous period for Irish rugby which Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, only associated for the 11th time at the hinge, will want to end.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr