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Can Anyone Stop France’s Charge Towards A Grand Slam?

Be fearful, be very fearful. French rugby is stirring and a giant awakes.

It was all really well for France’s reinvigorated rugby staff to hammer and humiliate the reigning Grand Slam champions Ireland, in Paris on Saturday. But to receive laudatory comments from that notoriously dissatisfied body of view identified as the French media was yet another point entirely.

Hence, we can imagine that French coach Marc Lièvremont (beneath) most likely needed to sit down in a darkened space when he had digested the phrases of France’s fantastic newspapers subsequent his team’s 33-ten victory at Stade de France.

“Fight Kings” L’Equipe hailed them. The magisterial Le Monde opined that: “France replied in masterly trend to the question of what level they are at.”

And the rugby bible, Midi Olympique, extra: “It was their aggression and breakdown perform which had been the most remarkable facets of the French functionality.”

As the Irish captain, Brian O’Driscoll, rightly pointed out: “It was an remarkable exhibit, not just from their forwards but an all-round overall performance.”

Considering that 2004, when they very last won a Grand Slam, France’s nationwide staff has atrophied, stymied by the kind of straitjacket tactics that are at present bedevilling the England crew. This has suited the nationwide psyche and traits of the French about as well as a glove on a three-fingered guy. They have looked ill at ease, out of sync.


But at Stade de France, we observed a distinct France. For a commence, there was a cohesion and stability which had not been apparent before. Forward power is a mighty weapon if it is accompanied by speed, a requisite of the modern gaming, and a willingness by the pack to set up the backs. Crucially, France appear to have uncovered for the initial time in years a fifty percent-back again blend of considerable likely.

Morgan Parra and François Trinh-Duc have brought a high quality that has had an ageless appeal to French groups, particularly, invention. They can vary their games, which is another vital aspect in present day rugby. This is another of the root leads to of England’s failings. More propitiously, Parra’s goal-kicking was so efficient against Ireland, even from extended variety.

Outside them, Mathieu Bastareaud, a centre who weighs an extraordinary 114kg, could be a single of the largest stars of the following World Cup.

But to counterbalance that, France have beaten the All Blacks and planet champions South Africa in the training course of the very last 8 months. Clearly, something is stirring in French rugby and the timing could barely be far better with a Planet Cup looming subsequent yr.

Nor has this transformation been achieved in a nonsensical, cavalier fashion. As the Australian Ewen McKenzie, a former coach of Paris-based club Stade Français and now in charge of the Queensland Reds, says: “Lièvremont has brought a great deal of more youthful people to the fore but he had the skeleton there all the time. He has nonetheless obtained some hard heads – Nallet, Harinordoquy, Pape, Servat, Mas, Jauzion and Poitrenaud – by means of the crucial positions of the staff.

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