Six Nations Rugby | State of play: how is France preparing for the resumption of the Six Nations?

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The Blues have a game to play, at home against Ireland on October 31, and they enter with a chance to win their first championship since 2010.It has been an impressive campaign so far for Fabien Galthie’s team – here is an overview of the state of play for France before the Championship resumes…

HISTORY SO FAR

France started the competition determined to improve after a fourth place finish in 2019, but first faced a severe test against an England side which had reached the World Cup final three months earlier.

Galthie’s first game at the helm of the national team, however, turned into an unforgettable one, as France took a 17-0 lead at halftime and resisted England’s response to win 24-17 winners.

New captain Charles Ollivon scored twice in the victory and he was there again the following weekend, winning the third of five tries for France in a bonus points win over Italy at the Stade de France .

The youthful exuberance that had shone in their first two victories was again present in Cardiff in the third set, as France won in the Welsh capital for the first time in a decade.

Romain Ntamack scored 17 points, including the crucial third try, as the visitors triumphed 27-23 in an exciting competition to keep their Grand Slam hopes on track.

Scotland sidelined those in Round 4 with a 28-17 victory at BT Murrayfield against a French side who played most of the game with 14 men after Mohamed Haouas was red carded in the first half.

As a result, France slipped under England in the points difference table before the remaining matches were postponed – but their hopes of winning the Championship trophy are alive and well …

HOW CAN THEY EARN IT?

France’s clash with Ireland will close Super Saturday on October 31, so they will know the equation before kick-off.

The Blues are tied on points with England for the last weekend, with both the 13th and England currently in the lead thanks to their slightly higher points difference (+15 versus +13 for France).

If England fails to beat Italy, a victory of any kind will be enough for France to claim the crown.

But if France and England win, it’ll come down to bonus points – or a point difference.

If both teams win with bonus points, France must beat Ireland by at least three points more than England beat Italy.

If England beat Italy without a bonus point, France will know that beating Ireland and scoring four or more tries in the process would see them finish at the top of the list.

Lots of permutations, then – but France must first focus on winning against an Irish side who will be determined to end their campaign on a high after a rough start.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Captain Charles Ollivon has led by example and is currently the Championship’s top try scorer with four, while helping four others.

His fundamental partner Gregory Aldritt has completed more races (58) than anyone in this year’s competition, while Bernard Le Roux tops the charts with 71.

Further back, half-back pairing Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack provided the spark for Galthie’s squad and, at 23 and 21 respectively, could be the heartbeat of the French backline for years to come.

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