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Post by sensisball on Wed 14 Aug 2019, 10:51 am

After another poor 6 Nations display are there any reasons for optimism about France’s chances in the World Cup? There were a few green shoots in terms of new or relatively new players. Iturria and Penauld made their transitions to backrow and wing fairly seamlessly. Du Pont proved a more than effective scrum-half, allying a great pass, good decision making with almost freakish physicality for one so small. Young Gregory Alldritt looks like a more than able replacement for king Louis, much quicker and proving to be a more able defender than the old war-horse. Bamba was able to step up to full international level although not unsurprisingly he wasn’t as dominant as he was at u20 level, where he helped France to overwhelm England’s scrum in the final of the 2018 U20 WC.

The interesting development is that the next France coach, Fabien Galthie is on board for the World Cup. He is officially playing a supporting role to Brunel, who remains the head coach.

However, observers at Les Bleus training camps note that Galthie seems to be calling the shots. The players talk about being asked to play a high tempo game with a greater emphasis of training with ball in hand. Apparently Galthie had an epiphany watching Glasgow warm up for their European fixture when he coached Montpellier back in 2014. He was impressed by the pace and accuracy with which Glasgow worked, even in their warm up and saw that as a blueprint for French rugby instead of the often slow forward dominated game. Unfortunately for Galthie a run of bad form and injuries to key players (Trin-Duc, Ouedraogo and Gorgodze ) led to a poor finish and then the sack at the end of the 2014 season by the disgruntled owner.

Galthie has enjoyed success as a club coach, firstly as backs coach at Stade Francais under Nick Mallet where they reached the finals of the T14 and Heineken cup, unfortunately losing both matches. Montpellier also made the finals of the T14 in his first year in charge, in 2010, even though they had a much smaller budget than most of the other more established clubs.

Selection for the World Cup was carried out by Brunel and the most significant omission was that of Matheau Basteraud, former captain and talisman of the team. By replacing him with the form outside centre of last year, Sofian Guitoune, of Toulouse, suddenly France can contemplate a high tempo game. Brunel’s decision to play Penauld on the wing now looks like a master stroke rather than a contrivance to keep MB in the team.

Brunel has also included three uncapped players in his squad in Clermont Auvergne wing Alivereti Raka, Toulouse hooker Peato Mauvaka and Toulon prop Emerick Setiano, but there is no space for Racing 92 wing Teddy Thomas, veteran Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra (burnt his boats with disparaging public comments about the coaching staff after the England game) or the massive but immobile La Rochelle prop Uini Atonio.

A back line with Du Pont, Fofana, Guitoune, Penauld and Raka should be able to frighten the life out of anyone but questions obviously remain:

Can Rabah Slimani find the kind of scrum dominance he has domestically at international level?

Can Lopez get enough quick ball to pull the strings like he does for Clermont?

Will Huget break a toe tripping in the shower?

Will Raka remain injury free long enough to make an impact in the tournament?

Most importantly after such a long run of dismal form do the players actually believe that can make their mark?

Many French fans seem to think that Galthie’s impact will be too late for this tournament as the players are unfit and not skilful enough. However with 16 of the 31 player main squad coming from Toulouse, Clermont or La Rochelle, all teams that are used to playing at pace, there are some reasons to be optimistic.

Squad:
G Alldritt (La Rochelle), D Bamba (Brive), Y Camara (Montpellier), C Chat (Racing 92), G Doumayrou (La Rochelle), A Dupont (Toulouse), G Fickou (Stade Francais), W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), P Gabrillagues (Stade Francais), G Guirado (Toulon), S Guitoune (Toulouse), Y Huget (Toulouse), A Uturria (Clermont Auvergne), F Lambey (Lyon), W Lauret (Racing 92), B Le Roux (Racing 92), C Lopez (Clermont Auvergne), M Machenaud (Racing 92), P Mauvaka (Toulouse), M Medard (Toulouse), R Ntamack (Toulouse), D Penaud (Clermont Auvergne), L Picamoles (Montpellier), J Poirot (Bordeax-Begles), D Priso (La Rochelle), A Raka (Clermont Auvergne), T Ramos (Toulouse), B Serin (Bordeaux-Begles), E Setiano (Toulon), R Slimani (Clermont Auvergne), S Vahaamahina (Clermont Auvergne).
Reserves: A Belleau (Toulon), F Cros (Toulouse), C Baille (Toulouse), C Ollivon (Toulon), V Rattez (La Rochelle), R Taofifenau (Toulon).



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Post by sensisball on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 10:27 am

France team for Saturday:
Medard 15
Penaud 14
Fontana 13
Fickou 12
Raka 11
Lopez 10
Du Pont 9
Cros 8
Alldrit 7
Ollivon 6
Vaahamahina 5
Gabrillagues 4
Slimani 3
Chat 2
Poirot (c) 1
Replacements:
Mauvaka 16
Priso 17
Sentiano 18
Lambey 19
Picamoles 20
Serin 21
Ntamack 22
Ramos 23

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 10:40 am

sensisball wrote:
Fontana 13

Poirot (c) 1

 Fofana I assume rather than Fontana?

Poirot as skipper shocks me. Never a fan of props captaining especially one who seems pretty average and is usually replaced pretty early.

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Post by sensisball on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 10:48 am

Sorry didn't double check the spelling, yes it is Fofana at 13.
I agree Poirot is pretty average and doesn't strike me as a leader either.
I would think Picamoles would take charge later on once Priso replaces Poirot. Interesting that Cros who is normally a 7 is playing 8 whilst Alldrit and Ollivon, both usually 8's are playing on the flanks.
If Picamoles replaces Cros then there would be three 8's in the back row.
How very French.


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Post by sensisball on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 4:02 pm

Doumayrou out of the world cup with Achilles injury. Brunel to announce his replacement by tomorrow. It definitely will not be Basterau, says Brunel of his former captain. Looks like Galthie really is pulling the strings in this campaign.

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Post by Tramptastic on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 4:03 pm

Who's likely to replace him?

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Post by sensisball on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 6:49 pm

Probably a back from the reserve squad of 6. Belleau the young Toulon 10/12 has the best shot.
Not sure if Brunel is allowed to select anyone outside the reserve group. Should find out tomorrow.

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Post by sensisball on Sat 17 Aug 2019, 8:39 am

It's now official Bastareaud is now playing at 8 for Lyon. Had 40 minutes in a friendly win against Clermont. So definitely not going to be called up as 13 cover for Doumayrou.

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Post by sensisball on Sun 18 Aug 2019, 9:58 am

France 32 Scotland 3

An emphatic win against a disjointed and seemingly badly conditioned Scottish side.
French front five were pretty dominant allowing the back row to attack through the middle. Alldrit in particular was impressive and capped his display with a nice score from a good lineout drive.
Cros played well for a debutant and Ollivon enjoyed his return after a long series of injuries.
Du Pont was a constant threat: quick and accurate service, excellent box kicking and some great running. Finished off a brilliant break by Penaud after running a great support line.
Lopez looked more like his Clermont self with some nice touches- pop pass to Cros being a particular highlight. However questions remain about his goal kicking temperament, only making 3 out of 6 attempts.
Centres of Fofana and Fickou looked comfortable in attack and defence, for the most part. Duncan Taylor didn't get much change from running at Fofana and looked absolutely spent by the time he came off in the second half. In fairness he has only managed a handful of games over the last 12 months recovering from a succession of bad injuries.
Raka scored a nice early try and looked dangerous on attack. Darcy Graham did a great job of stopping him before he got into his running on several occasions.
Penaud didn't see a huge amount of ball in the first half was more involved after the break. Had a beautiful mazy run to set up Du Pont for his try.
At fullback Medard was great in attack grabbing a brace of tries. He, like all the squad, looked in great condition and ran with the pace he displayed when he first played for France.
Marks out of ten? Considering it was the first training match and that Scotland were poor I would think Galthie would award 8 out of 10.
Chat's throwing needs to improve, as does Lopez kicking at goal. They also should have scored at least another couple of tries. But a promising start.
Can they back it up with a win at Murrayfield against a stronger Scottish team?

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Post by sensisball on Sun 18 Aug 2019, 12:08 pm

France squad update
Vakatawa to replace the injured Douymaru in the French squad. Versalite back who was a 7s star before playing on the wing, with little effect, before signing with Racing 92 and converting into a dangerous outside centre. Fantastic in attack his defence is sometimes a bit suspect!

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