As soon as the Blues were cruelly eliminated in the quarter-final of “their” World Cup by the Springboks (29-28), two players, both aged 33, announced their international retirement: second-row Romain Taofifenua ( Lyon) and right pillar Uini Atonio (La Rochelle). Two senior players from the French group, who wanted to concentrate solely on their club career. But, in the end, there was a turnaround.
According to information from L'Équipe, Uini Atonio would have agreed to extend his adventure a little with the French team, he who had honored his first selection in November 2014 against Fiji under the orders of Philippe Saint-André. The Rochelais will therefore keep the flocked jersey of number 3 during - at least - the next Six Nations Tournament, or even another additional season. Last week, at a press conference, the pillar of New Zealand origin confided that he was in contact with the French coach. “I spoke to Fabien on the phone… But it’s private. It’s between him and me,” he evaded, preferring not to say more. The pillar of the Maritimes, double reigning European champions, would have finally responded to Fabien Galthié’s call.
It must be said that it is difficult to replace a player like Uini Atonio, who has established himself in recent seasons as one of the best right-handers on the international scene, solid in scrum and effective in creating fixation points in attack, thanks to its impressive physical density (1.96 m for 145 kg). Behind him, the competition has not managed to toughen up and offer other serious alternatives, whether Dorian Aldegheri (Toulouse), Sipili Falatea (UBB), Demba Bamba (Lyon) or Thomas Laclayat (Racing 92, ex-Oyonnax). Not to mention Mohamed Haouas (Montpellier), whose international career was stopped (temporarily?) because of his troubles with the law.
After their terrible disillusionment with the World Cup, the Blues will begin their next Six Nations Tournament, on February 2 at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, with a shock at the top against Ireland, title holders but also revengers after their elimination in the quarter-finals. by the All Blacks.
Schedule of the Six Nations Tournament:
France-Ireland: Friday February 2 (9 p.m.) at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille. Scotland-France: Saturday February 10 (3:15 p.m.) at Murrayfield (Edinburgh). France-Italy: Sunday February 25 (4 p.m.) at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. Wales-France: Sunday March 10 (4 p.m.) at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. France-England: Saturday March 16 (9 p.m.) at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon.
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