Oita (Japan) (AFP)
Some veterans to point, a slew of young people to turn the page of the dark years: the future coach of the XV of France Fabien Galthié can rely on an interesting base in 2023, after the elimination Sunday in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Back from Japan on Tuesday morning, the Blues will separate in the wake to Marcoussis, where they will meet in mid-January to prepare for the Six Nations Tournament. First stage of a quadrennial cycle that will take them to the World 2023, organized in France.
Guilhem Guirado and Louis Picamoles (33 years old each) will not be part of it: the hooker and the third center line played their last match in the selection against the Welsh (defeat 20-19). Ditto for Sebastien Vahaamahina, anti-hero of the quarterfinals of which he was excluded, who announced Monday his international retirement on the day of his 28 years.
Wesley Fofana (31 years old), had retired international without being able to play Japan, hurt.
What about those who have convinced but have happily passed the 30 year mark in 2023? Three-quarters Maxime Medard, new dean (32 years) of the Blues, and Yoann Huget (32 also) did not say if they would continue the adventure.
On the front, right-back Rabah Slimani, flanker Wenceslas Lauret and second-row Bernard Le Roux - very leggy - come back from Asia with a good score but have other points in common to have 30 years and a history in teeth saw with the Blues. Other thirties, Camille Lopez and Maxime Machenaud will struggle to hold the length in positions where the competition arrives. Especially if Galthie decides to breathe in 2020 a lot of new blood.
- Discovery class in Japan -
For the rest, it was class discovered in the land of the Rising Sun, where the teacher Jacques Brunel took a group largely rejuvenated (26 years of average) and inexperienced (26 selections of average).
Most young shoots have responded and will be mainstays of the 2023 project, such as opener Romain Ntamack (20 years old), scrumhalf Antoine Dupont (22) and Baptiste Serin (25), winger Damian Penaud (23). ), the team's new X factor, or the Camille Chat hooker (also 23), which combines speed and power.
On the front line, Chat, Jefferson Poirot (26) on his left, Demba Bamba (21) on his right represent the future, as Penaud, Alivereti Raka (24) or Gael Fickou - already very experienced but who has only 25 years old - behind. The Parisian trained with Virimi Vakatawa (27 years) a pair of unimaginable centers a few weeks ago and it is the latter who has distinguished himself.
The ex-winger comes back from a distance and with a lot of momentum, just like the third line Charles Ollivon (26 years old), relieved of his injuries. Since these two ghosts have jostled the hierarchy during the preparation, it is unlikely that Galthie, who directed him as assistant coach Jacques Brunel, decides to do without.
- Blooming Blueberries? -
The former coach of Stade Français, Montpellier and Toulon should also open the door to the double world champion generation under 20 years in 2018 and 2019. Bamba and Ntamack were the precursors before being joined by the center Pierre- Louis Barassi (21 years old), arrived en route to replace Fofana.
Who will imitate them from 2020? In the three-quarters, the candidates are numerous among the Toulousans Matthis Lebel and Lucas Tauzin, Montpelliérain Arthur Vincent or Lyonnais Clément Laporte.
At the opening, the future staff will have a dilemma to resolve: will he choose to install Ntamack at any cost or expose it to the competition of Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Bègles) and Louis Carbonel (Toulon ), who shine in Top 14? In the half scrums, Baptiste Couilloud (Lyon) is expected in the race.
In front, where things move a little slower, some Blueberries (Jean-Baptiste Gros, Kilian Geraci, Jordan Joseph) are ready to grow the pool, especially in the second and third lines where Brunel and Galthie have struggled to make choices.
The recalcitrated François Cros and Félix Lambey still have their say, as hooker Julien Marchand, back from injury. Arthur Iturria and Yacouba Camara, less prominent in 2019 than in previous years, have no guarantees.
© 2019 AFP