Six Nations Rugby | Year-end review: France – .

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Six Nations Rugby | Year-end review: France – .


Silver remains elusive, a second consecutive Guinness Six Nations runner-up was ultimately a disappointment, but there is no doubt that France is on the rise under Fabien Galthié.

Two years away from a World Cup at home, the Stade de France is sold out, the team embarks on testing for fun and a record-breaking victory against New Zealand is perhaps the striking result for this new staff.

Add to that the fact that this French team are still very young and blessed with enormous depth, and now is the perfect time to be a fan of France.

Guinness Six Nations

A year after the Blues finished second to England, it was a case of deja vu, this time Wales squad to lead them to the title.

It all started brilliantly with a landslide 50-10 victory in Italy as Antoine Dupont stole the show, scoring four tries and scoring one himself.

A week later, France ended their ten-year wait for a win in Dublin by beating Ireland 15-13 as Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud’s tries proved too much for Andy Farrell’s men .

At this point, France looked like potential Grand Slam contenders, but a Covid-19 outbreak saw their next game against Scotland postponed, before England won a thriller at Twickenham 23-20 thanks to the he late try by Maro Itoje, despite the brilliant scores from Dupont and Penaud, gave France a 17-13 lead at halftime.

Grand Slam hopes were over, but France remained in contention for the championship when they denied Wales a free kick, with Brice Dulin overtaking with the clock in the red to snatch a 32-30 victory after the France had trailed ten points while a man down before the last ten minutes.

That left them in need of a success with bonus points with a 20-point margin of victory over Scotland in their revamped game to conclude the title, but in the wet conditions of the Stade de France it never really did. been on the agenda. Instead, it was Duhan van der Merwe’s last try that gave Scotland their first Paris victory in more than two decades, 27-23.

However, France finished second in the general classification, as in the 2020 Championship and the Fall Nations Cup.

Summer tour

France traveled to Australia in June with a well-modified squad. Top 14 finalists were unavailable for the tour, meaning no players from Toulouse or La Rochelle – like Dupont, Romain Ntamack and Grégory Alldritt.

In addition, Galthié took the decision to put some of his more experienced players to rest so a total of 12 of the players who had started the final match of the Guinness Six Nations were absent.

Anthony Jelonch led a fresh-faced team for a three-test run against the Wallabies in which all three games were played on the wire.

Despite low expectations and with six debutants, France led most of the first Test thanks to Gabin Villière’s brace. In fact, they had possession of the ball and the lead with the clock in the red but couldn’t get it out of the field of play, which led to Australia pulling themselves together and ultimately winning the penalty that Noah Lolesio converted to win 23-21.

It looked like history would repeat itself six days later as Australia overcame another deficit to take the lead late, but this time France had the last laugh, with the impressive Melvyn Jaminet scoring a penalty to win a 28 success. -26.

However, it was Australia that came out on top with the series win, again thanks to a late penalty from Lolesio to secure a 33-30 victory, despite Marika Koroibete’s early red card. France scored three tries including a good long-distance team score ended by Pierre-Louis Barassi but ultimately failed narrowly.

Fall Nations Series

There was a hint of what might have been like for France in the first half of the year, so they had to finish on a high in the Fall Nations Series, and that’s exactly what they did with three victories against Argentina, Georgia and, above all, the All Blacks.

The opening success against Argentina came after a major struggle, the Blues finally lost 29-20 winners following the trials of debutant Thibaud Flament and substitute hooker Peato Mauvaka.

Two more tries on Mauvaka’s bench, along with a brace from Penaud, helped France secure a comfortable 41-15 victory over Georgia in Bordeaux.

And the choice of performance came to Paris as France, led by Antoine Dupont all fall in the absence of Charles Ollivon, injured, beat the All Blacks 40-25.

Mauvaka topped the first half twice, bringing his total for the fall to five, with Ntamack in between as France led 24-6 at the break, New Zealand’s biggest deficit at the halfway point. -time.

The All Blacks came down to two points in the second half before a counterattack from Ntamack behind his own line sparked a revival for France, with a Penaud interception attempt sealing the victory.

Out of the ordinary performers

Only two players have participated in each France game this year, Damian Penaud who started ten of the 11 games and Romain Taofifenua who started five. Penaud also finished top goalscorer with seven and recovered as one of the go-to men after injury in 2020.

If he has not traveled to Australia, Antoine Dupont continues to establish himself as one of the greats of current football and could follow in the footsteps of Thierry Dusautoir and his trainer Fabien Galthié by being named World Rugby Player of the year next week. As well as being arguably the best scrum-half on the planet, he took command in Ollivon’s absence and progressed admirably in November.

Antoine Dupont

At his side, the performance of Romain Ntamack against the All Blacks underlined his status as the first choice option at the opener, despite a good year for Matthieu Jalibert with the ten Toulouse injured at the start of the year.

Both Anthony Jelonch and Cameron Woki moved from away 23 to the starters in the fall, with the latter moving from the back row to lockdown and excelling in the unknown role.

Likewise, Peato Mauvaka has been exceptional in his only start against New Zealand, having looked good as an impact player behind his club colleague Julien Marchand, who is a front row mainstay with Cyril Baille.

Gaël Fickou is probably the first name on the team sheet in the three quarters, and has been effective whether he starts in the center, on the outside or even on the wing.

Gael Fickou

Finally, a word for Melvyn Jaminet. The Perpignan full-back made his Australian debut never having played a top-level match or in front of a crowd of over 1,000 due to Covid restrictions. He was nerveless there from the tee shot and adds a real threat of a counterattack. He backed that up with a brilliant performance against the All Blacks and already has 89 points under his belt at Test level.

Perspectives 2022

As mentioned above, the key for France now will be to earn silverware after being so close for the past two seasons.

The Guinness Six Nations see them welcoming both England and Ireland, the other two undefeated teams in the Fall Nations Series.

These games are both already sold out, an indication of the interest growing around the side and these will be huge challenges. Trips to Cardiff and Edinburgh won’t be easy either, although France have won their last matches in both cities.

After that, there will be a trip to Japan for two Tests against the Brave Blossoms, but the priority is clearly to end the 12-year wait for a Championship title, and after the way they finished 2021, France clearly has the talent.

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