The Dupont generation, the Covid, his little family secrets: Fabien Galthié tells his story

Pandemic requires, the interview with Fabien Galthié took place remotely by videoconference. From Marcoussis and the national training center, the coach returned to this first year at the head of the XV of France before leaving French soil to fly to Edinburgh.

Sunday (4:15 p.m.), the Blues meet Scotland as part of the autumn cup of nations with the firm intention of taking revenge. During the Six Nations Tournament, the XV du Chardon is the only team to have thwarted the rise in power of the young generation tricolor beaten 28-17. But beyond the athlete, the 51-year-old man, also spoke about his life.


One year after your arrival at the head of the Blues and a 2nd place in the Six Nations Tournament, how do you judge the operation to win back?

FABIEN GALTHIÉ. The purpose when building up the staff was to become a major world rugby nation again. How? ‘Or’ What? By quickly winning matches and titles. After the first competition, we finish first tied. It’s easy to say it after the fact, but we let slip a bonus point here and there, we left one to the English ( Editor’s note: 24-17 ). Our first meeting had to be so successful against them that we were not in the calculation.

With Dupont and Ntamack, do you have a golden generation?

We have the opportunity to tap into a reservoir where there are players with very high potential. We chose very young ones. Match after match, we realize the potential, but we cannot say, before, that this is a golden youth. Nor that they are going to be the best in the world. They are not yet and we may find out if we beat the best teams in the world.

How do you manage to manage this generation that we often call Generation Z?

You have to understand it already. I am 51 years old and they are 24 years old on average. I am fortunate to have a 19 year old son and watch him live. Somewhere it enlightens me. But I don’t quite agree with you.

Why ?

In this French team, all profiles exist. We can make a shortcut by talking about generation Z but after the games, they sing Francis Cabrel for example. Is this Gen Z?

So how do you manage a team that sings Cabrel?

One of the key words is to develop their autonomy. Pass them from student players to master players. It is a generation that understands this, it is ambitious but not proud. What interests them is to live the moment intensely. They tell us that they like their hairs to stand up. So we try to magnify the moments. In fact either we do nothing and we rest, or it is rather short but intense things on the ground. As they are used to living with technological tools, they appreciate attention to detail and precision.

Think you have everything you need to win the world title in 2023?

We took everything we could take. Bernard Laporte said yes to everything. When we took office, French rugby was in crisis. We took advantage of a consensus with the League to have the right to use 42 players from Monday to Thursday noon and release 14. But that did not last long and afterwards we had to do as we could. It is a subject on which I hope that the situation will be improved while recognizing the constraints for clubs which are cut off by 6 or 7 players. This is terrible! We would like so much that the two calendars are harmonized and that the clubs adapt to the international calendar.

Antoine Dupont embodies the new generation that has taken place in the XV of France./LP/Olivier Corsan

One of your pillars Mohamed Haouas finds this Sunday in Edinburgh where he was excluded last February for a punch. Did you discuss it with him?

Yes, during group discussions during our workshops. I was in Momo’s speaking group on Monday. He referred to it himself, saying: I want to catch up. I know the damage I have done to the team. He perceives it like that. Momo is a good example of tolerance and the second chance through his career. We were all wrong and I was the first to make big mistakes. When we become public figures, we have less and less the right to make mistakes and just the right to do well. To be wrong is to have weaknesses and weaknesses. Before a match, we have the right to say to ourselves that we are afraid and that we are stressed. Momo feels he is sometimes stigmatized on subjects like error, bankruptcy or fault. He always responded positively at a difficult time by managing to sort the problem out on his own.

What do you say to those who consider that you are not too emotional in your management, sometimes even brutal …

There are always players who have complaints to make against their coach. In a group, we find people who are disappointed because they do not play, others who do not take the path offered to them, it must be accepted. My approach is always to try to understand and improve. My management is very participatory, with the objective of developing the player so that he becomes autonomous while remaining connected. You have to give him all the keys for his personal development but he has to want it too.


How do you see the pandemic?

Rugby, we were the first to be arrested in our professional activity even before the emergency confinement (March 17). Like everyone else, we didn’t really understand what was going on. At first, it was more of an experience to be lived. We consider ourselves lucky because we are one of the privileged who have been able to live the best confinement. I experienced this period as a personal introspection. And with the staff, we continued to work remotely on our project without really knowing where we were going.

What did you learn from this period?

When you’re at a standstill, you learn to appreciate the simple things. We measure what we were going through by remembering that in the previous century, rugby had only been stopped in history on two occasions: before the first and second world wars. The Perpignan team, champion in June 1914, lost six players in the fighting two months later. It’s good to look to the past and take a step back. We live a lot in the short term in our society with an anxiety-provoking flow of information. It might have been easier before – I’m weighing my words – to go through these crises.

Fabien Galthié transmits his precious advice to Romain Ntamack./LP/Olivier Corsan
Fabien Galthié transmits his precious advice to Romain Ntamack./LP/Olivier Corsan

What place can sport have in this context?

The athlete is egocentric, it’s true. But being able to still play gave us the feeling that we could distract people locked in their homes, without being able to play sports or go to the stadium. The pandemic is very hard to live with for our youth who need to practice, to meet. We are not children and we play. They… (they are) children and they cannot play. We had lost sight of the main issue of sport: to educate, to make people more courageous and united. The context redirects us to the essential: to share the joy, the pain, the emotion. Sport recovers its cultural place which is to support society in its daily life.


In a sequence of jersey delivery before Ireland at the end of October, broadcast by France Télévisions, we felt very moved by evoking your past, your relationship with your Father Jean-Noël. What did it revive in you?

Ah la la… First, the brilliant idea of ​​the players was to put the name of their home club below their number. With Raphaël (Ibanez), we said to ourselves that we had to launch this jersey delivery, always the day before the match. I started to tell the story of my club, Tournefeuille (Haute-Garonne), its locker rooms. I went back to childhood, like when I was 7 years old at the time. I then thought of my dad who was going back and forth to take me, waiting for me at the edge of the field, was there all the time, at the rugby school he created. I realized that I had surely not been able to share with him everything that makes me find myself here today. I was won over by a great emotion … We often want to show that we are supermen in the France team but we are Hercules with feet of clay, let’s not forget that.

Have you spoken to him about it since?

You know, my dad’s generation, the post-war generation, is very modest. She had children early enough, was making her way. I also come from a rural world. I don’t have the same relationship with my children as my daddy does with me. I often tell my son or daughter that I love them. But if my daddy’s generation doesn’t tell you, they show it to you every day.

What does Montgesty, your little village of Lot, think of your rise?

Know what they think… The important thing is to share with them. I was still a week ago in this village to which I am attached ( Editor’s note: his father is the mayor ). I used to collect mushrooms, death trumpets, and mutton’s trotters. When I come back to it, I just want to reconnect with this nature, the smells, to go to the bistro to play cards, to simple things, to this environment in which I felt happy. We don’t want to fart it!

You were brought up for four years by your grandmother Paulette …

(To laugh). From my early years because my parents worked in the city. Paulette was my daddy’s mom, she spent her time at home, doing housework while the men worked on the farm. Being the first of her grandchildren, I was in her petticoats. She counted a lot. My grandfather was a horse dealer in his black blouse. I loved following my grandparents to markets and fairs. I remember the bundles of bills they would bring back and put in a safe. Unbelievable !

Your parents also encouraged you to do odd summer jobs as a teenager …

My first was to castrate the corn. I then put away boxes, I had nightmares at night (to laugh), parts in a garage. I even worked as a garbage collector in Colomiers, where I played. Maybe this is my favorite job. His precariousness made him very hard but there was a form of mutual aid. At the time, we made a little money and we realized what the job was. We had a social role very early on. Suddenly, we felt important because we had a mission, and it was gratifying to fulfill it.

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