Rugby / 6 Nations: A feverish French XV against Italy

The French XV Jacques Brunel, the French singer, has been deceived. & Agrave; a staff review to go face Italy on Saturday, March 16th & agrave; Rome in closing of the 6 Nations Tournament. The test-match against Italy ...

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Guilhem Guirado (c), captain of the France team against Ireland, on March 10, 2019. DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

The coach of the XV of France Jacques Brunel conducted a staff review to face Italy Saturday, March 16 in Rome at the end of the tournament of 6 Nations. The test-match against Italy will be crucial for the Blues six months before the World Cup in Japan and after a stinging defeat against Ireland.

" The Fifteen of France does not exist, no longer exists. This is the first time I see a team from France in such suffering. "Pierre Berbizier, coach of the Blues from 1992 to 1995, does not take gloves in the columns of L'Equipe to describe a critical situation of French rugby. " Our bases and our base men have disappeared, " says the former coach.

Take stock before the World Cup

After the defeat against Ireland (26-14) in Dublin, the Tricolores are preparing to face Italy in Rome. With two days of a game under pressure against the Italians, and six months away from the next World Cup in Japan, the French team will want to come out of the 6 Nations with a victory against a team that has not won the less match in the Tournament since 2015.

Since the beginning of the tournament, France lost to Wales (19-24), suffered a humiliation at Twickenham against England (44-8) and experienced a burst of pride, at home, against the Scotland (27-10) before bowing again to Ireland.

" We will take stock next week, I will not talk about tomorrow, we have this game on which to focus, " said the coach of XV French Jacques Brunel, interviewed Thursday, March 14 on its future and that of the selection before the World. " If I ask myself these questions, I will not live ," adds Brunel, questioned about the consequences of a possible defeat in Italy, the weakest nation of the Tournament. " We are below other nations, we end up with Scotland and Italy in the second car (France is 5th in the rankings, Ed)," admits Brunel. " It's up to us to show on this last match that the face shown against England and Ireland is not the real face of the French team . "

Disturbed preparation

The preparation of the match against Italy was disrupted by the information published by L'Équipe that Brunel and the vice-president of the Federation Serge Simon wanted to withdraw the captaincy in Guirado after the debacle in England on February 10, in favor of Jefferson Poirot who refused to wear the armband. But the rest of the group stood up to save Guirado.

" After England, we talked about questioning the staff, questioning the game, relations with coaches and the captaincy. Guilhem had been strengthened in his captaincy and will be captain until the end of the World Cup, for me this subject is closed, "ahead today Jacques Brunel, beaten eleven times in fifteen meetings since his arrival late 2017.

" In difficulty, the group tightens. I know that is not enough and that we will have to do something else. We work with humility and without bragging. We have ambition for this meeting against Italy. We want to finish well this tournament, "advance on his side Louis Picamoles, third row in Montpellier.

The Dupont-Ntamack hinge extended

Meanwhile, Brunel has chosen to revive two "old" Maxime Médard (32 years, 55 sel.) In the back and Wesley Fofana (31 years, 46 sel.) In the center. Both were opening titles against Wales (24-19) before losing their place due to a thigh injury. They are preferred respectively to Thomas Ramos and Gaël Fickou.

With the duo Fofana-Mathieu Bastareaud, Brunel will also be lining up a fourth pair of centers in five games in this tournament. In front, the coach made two changes with the tenurings of Paul Willemse in second row and Yacouba Camara a notch lower. Willemse (26 years old, 4 sel.) Replaces Sebastien Vahaamahina to find a place occupied titular opening of the Tournament, for his first cape. Camara (24, 12 sel.), Holder in England, was preferred to Arthur Iturria as flanker. Despite the heavy setback against Ireland, the Dupont-Ntamack hinge is renewed.

The starting XV: Médard - Penaud, Bastareaud, Fofana, Huget - (o) Ntamack, (m) A. Dupont - Y. Camara, Picamoles, Alldritt - Willemse, Lambey - Bamba, Guirado (cap), Falgoux

Replacements: Cat, Priso, Aldegheri, Gabrillagues, Iturria, Serin, Lopez, Ramos

ref: rfi

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