Six Nations Tournament: why France dons the costume of favorite

Eighteen months from the World Cup at home, the Blues no longer want to hide. As they start their Six Nations Tournament against Italy on Sunday February 6 (4 p.m.), on the lawn of the Stade de France, Fabien Galthié’s men will put on a costume that is not always easy to wear: that of apparent favourite.

In this winter of 2022, the XV of France has several arguments to claim final victory in the Tournament, which has eluded it since its last coronation, in 2010.

The blue group remains on a masterful victory against New Zealand (40-25), at the end of November. Authors of a match of bosses, the French had disgusted Blacks exceeded and never in the game. This match concluded a solid autumn tour, with three successes in as many games (against the All Blacks, therefore, but also Georgia and Argentina), during which the Blues showed good and at least good, but above all beautiful promises.

The XV of France has gained in confidence and maturity. The players have learned to find each other, to capitalize on their good periods, and to better manage the moments of difficulty. Carried by an unbreakable backbone, formed in particular by Antoine Dupont – crowned best player of the year 2021 by World Rugby – or Romain Ntamack – always present in major events -, the Blues have the opportunity to extend this positive spiral. .

The French remain on two encouraging Six Nations, but with the taste of unfinished. In 2020, at the end of a tournament cut by the coronavirus pandemic, they finished second, with the same number of points as winners England. Last year, the Blues had also grabbed the runner-up spot, from Wales this time, by four lengths.

Revanchists, the men of Fabien Galthié will no doubt be keen this year to write their names in the history books, and will not be satisfied with a third consecutive silver medal. “You have to prepare for the matches to win them, have ambitions too, it’s a strong thing in our group”assured the third-line François Cros at the microphone of Tout le Sport.

The XV of France also benefits from a calendar rather in its favor. With three receptions for two trips, the Tricolores will be able to rely heavily on their lawn and their public at the Stade de France to push them to the top. Especially since two of these receptions concern two big nations, Ireland first, on February 12, then the hereditary enemy English, on March 19, in a Crunch which will close the Tournament.

Two trips remain, to Scotland at Murrayfield on February 26, and especially to the Millennium Stadium, the fortress of Wales, for a trip to the level raised two weeks later.

But as for almost two years, everything is no longer only in the hands and feet of the Blues, and a little stranger can invite himself to the party. The Covid-19 could indeed reshuffle the cards in the event of contamination. Its specter is already hovering over the French group, with many players returning from illness (Dupont, Ntamack, Cros, Jelonch, Baille among others) and in the dark about their state of form. First elements of response Sunday against Italy, to hope to launch a great adventure.

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