After a painful victory, the first in ten years in Dublin, the Blues are leading the Tournament. And can begin to believe in a final victory.
Flamboyance and solidity. After two games, the France team showed qualities that we had somewhat forgotten in recent years. A victory full of promise in Italy (50-10), a success full of character in Ireland (15-13): the XV of France donned the costume of the favorite of the Six Nations Tournament 2021 after two trips while in control.
As in 2020, the Blues therefore launched the Tournament with two successes. A more impressive performance than last year since, this time, the Blues have chained two away victories, a first since the 2010 edition.
At the time, the XV of France of Marc Lièvremont had won the Tournament, Grand Slam in addition after victories in Scotland (19-8) then in Wales (26-20), the last time for the Blues: premonitory ?
One thing is certain: on Sunday, the French ended ten years of famine. Since 2011, a French team has never managed to win in Ireland. From setback to disappointment, Dublin had become an impregnable fortress.
Charles Ollivon’s men put an end to the green curse, by dint of courage and self-sacrifice. And a bit of pragmatism: stifled during the first 30 minutes, reduced to fourteen after the yellow card from Bernard Le Roux (24th), the Blues took advantage of their first foray to register a try by their “Captain Fracasse”. Before resisting and even containing the Irish assaults.
So, of course, not everything was perfect for this second move in a row, especially in terms of the touch (3 lost balls) or the discipline (9 penalties), but these Blues have learned to “win ugly” . Charles Ollivon did not say anything else: “it was a men’s match. That sums up this match well: there was a really fierce battle,” he said.
Cut to go far?
“It’s the state of mind that allows us to win this match. It was very, very rough on all contacts. There was not a second of relaxation, it was the war from the first to the 80th minute. It was really hard, “added the third row, author of his eighth try in twenty caps, his first of 2021.
In total, the Blues have attempted more than 200 tackles. Including 20 for the only Charles Ollivon, seventeen each for the second row Bernard Le Roux-Paul Willemse or fifteen for the omnipresent Gregory Alldritt … The XV of France tackled in Ireland, much tackled.
Proof that this XV of France knows how to leave the ball to his opponent and make the best use of it when he has it. “We haven’t let go,” admitted Ollivon. Under pressure, the Blues have built their success on an iron defense. And flawless aggressiveness.
And this success is a relief. It was enough to see the tears of Brice Dulin, the emotion of Fabien Galthié or the relief of Antoine Dupont to understand the intensity of the moment. After the huge defensive streak at the last minute, the French confirmed their capacity for resilience and this insatiable hunger which has become their trademark.
Before looking the All Blacks or the Springboks in the eye, before even talking about the Grand Slam, Galthié’s men will have to assume their new status, with two receptions: those of Scotland (February 28) and Wales (March 20), which frame a capital move to Twickenham on March 13. Matches to follow of course live with commentary on RMC Sport and on the radio on the RMC antenna.
The Blues have not won in London since 2007 (21-15). We even have to go back to 2005 to see a French success in England in the Tournament (18-17). That year, the Blues of Bernard Laporte finished second in the competition, behind Wales, winning four of their five matches.
The Blues of 2021 have resources. It’s up to them to prove it.