“For four years, we have not had a match without victory. We have always heard this little music. It has been our mission to carry the colors of French rugby high for four years. But there are obstacles. This Friday, we will face Ireland, which was the number one nation in the world before the last World Cup and which is number 2 now. We find ourselves going from South Africa, world champion, to Ireland, world number two who also suffered defeat in the quarter-finals. But defeat is part of the journey. But we appreciate this context: pressure, injunction... That's what we're here for, we're solid. These are positions with a heavy mission that we have assumed for four years and that we will continue to assume. With pleasure and determination.”
“We have kept an essential framework which makes this team “perform”, we have preserved what makes this team strong. Let's not forget... Afterwards, we have to evolve. We always changed details that made the method more efficient. We have had ten competitions in the past, this will be the eleventh. In the major changes, there are the men in the staff. What has changed in the method are small details on several things: the game, the defense, the attack, the content of the day with Nicolas Jeanjean (new physical trainer) who brought a more in-depth vision to make so that we are even better prepared. These are small developments to continue to progress.”
“These are choices that we make with the staff. (...) The choice was: intensity run or intensity fought. We chose the intensity fought to start the match. (...) We made strategic choices to have the strongest French team on Friday evening. In these choices, with a 6-2 bench, we will be able to have a lot of energy on the front line. Both in the intensity fought and in the intensity run. The Irish team will offer us 200 tackles, we are preparing to tackle 200 times, to play 200 rucks, without possession. We have a big meeting on what we call the physical, technical and psychological balance of power. These three ingredients will be mixed.”
“We have been operating with a group of six leaders since the start of the mandate: Julien Marchand, Anthony Jelonch, Greg Alldritt, Charles Ollivon, Antoine Dupont and Gaël Fickou. Two players are absent: one due to injury (Jelonch), another due to career choice (Dupont). We brought Thomas Ramos and Maxime Lucu into this group consistently. Regarding the captaincy itself, we had the possibility of changing over time. We could go back to Charles (Ollivon), but we chose Greg Allddrit, a new personality. He has a lot of experience with us for four years. He plays in a very European team, La Rochelle, coached by an Irish coach (Ronan O’Gara). He still has a different culture, even if he comes from Gers, we have to put a Gersois (smile). He decided to take two months (of rest) to prepare for the Tournament, this was not well understood... He took responsibility. He has an individual and collective vision, he is very efficient, with experience. He brings his energy, his sensitivity, his European side. That's a lot of assets and it seemed obvious to us to move the lines in leadership and around the captaincy.
“This is an opportunity to salute Antoine who is preparing to travel with rugby sevens. He continues to play with his team (Toulouse) and was excellent last weekend at Racing 92. This is part of the vision of development that we have with the players, a vision shared by the DTN, the Federation and its club. He chose an opening, a parenthesis, which will be rugby sevens at the Olympics. I congratulate him once again because it's good to breathe, to get out of the box in one way or another. This leaves the opportunity for other players to come into the locker room and look for the jersey. Max Lucu has been with us since almost the beginning of the mandate. He has always been good, even very good in his matches. Now it’s his turn to take charge. With serenity, what he can do, his strengths, his qualities. And then, Nolann Le Garrec is with us from Japan (summer tour 2022). He was always very good in training, convincing in the time he spent with us. He was never capped. He performs very well with Racing. I have a feeling Nolann is ready to take over. I see this emulation in French rugby as positive. The leaders (Alldritt, Ramos, Lucu) now have to play without Antoine. It will be interesting to see this different face of the France team.”
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“We first made a selection of the best French players to wear the French team jersey. Then, these are players who have worn the French team jersey for four years with 80% victory, and even 90% victory over the last two years. In our opinion, there is no reason to rotate based on age. If there are changes, it will be in relation to performance, emulation and competitiveness. They are the best French players in their position. They represent maximum strength. In the future, we know there will also be issues related to injuries. Selection over a four-year journey is precarious, there are obstacles. We think we can bring 80% of this group and these players to the 2027 World Cup. We are a strong group.
“Peato (Mauvaka) performed very well throughout the World Cup, he was able to take over from Julien (Marchand) as a starter. Julien was injured after a quarter of an hour against the All Blacks by scratching a ball, in a gesture which for us was reprehensible. Peato took over and is in great shape today. Julien returns, he has had knee surgery and he is starting to play a series of matches. He is able to wear the jersey. Julien is a finisher, that’s the ultimate responsibility for me: to finish the match and raise my arms at the end of the match.”
“We could have filled three Stade Vélodrome, that’s 67,000 seats. When we took over the French team four years ago, 45,000 seats were sold at the Stade de France. The public is there, very present. We could have filled the Lyon stadium four times (against England), the Lille stadium twice (against Italy). Our mission is to bring together, unite and share with the public. This is the meaning of our mission. According to the latest studies, 98% of the French population supports the French team. We are where we wanted to be and we have what we wanted: an audience with whom we share. The French team likes the Stade Vélodrome, very much.”
“It’s a team that will present itself with players with 60 caps on average. These are players who almost only play for their national team and, a little, for their province. I imagine it will be the same team - without Sexton or Hansen - as the quarter-final against the All Blacks. They have played four matches in the European Cup and they prepared well for our meeting. We are not very worried about their ability to perform without Jonathan Sexton. To whom we pay tribute for his superb career.”
Comments collected at a press conference