• Lack of mastery in Ireland
It had been ten years since any French team had won on Irish soil. So, to win this February 14, 2021, even by two small points (15-13), that was enough for the happiness of the Blues. Witness the strong emotion of Brice Dulin, in tears, who had more often lived the green hell than the Irish walks. But since it’s time to take stock, and there is a little lack of zinc, let’s go back to what went wrong that day.
Completely dominated at the start of the match as at the end, the Blues put up a lot of resistance, valiantly, courageously. But without ever really mastering the meeting. A bit like this very stupid yellow card received by Bernard Le Roux, for a croc in the legs on an Irishman who wanted to be at the reception of a pretty candle. Or like the test cashed before the hour mark, on poor coordination in touch between jumper Charles Ollivon and Antoine Dupont, which hooker Ronan Kelleher took advantage of to go to the promised land.
With more control, the formation of Fabien Galthié could, with its customary realism, fetch two more tries, synonymous with an offensive bonus. Or just to get a more comfortable victory, which would undoubtedly have changed a lot of things at the time of the “final” against Scotland, with a very important points delay to make up compared to Wales.
• The Covid coup and the Trafalgar coup against England
In a purely factual way, the France team lost the 2021 Tournament by losing at Twickenham on March 13 (20-23). It’s almost the obvious. Three points less, three minutes too much, a video arbitration which would still cause talk in all the bars of the south of the Loire if they were open, France has lost big. The Blues had victory at the end of their rifle against the English little confident, they let them come to life.
Nevertheless, it was before that much of the meeting was over. First there was this frenzied start to the match, where the two teams surrendered blow for blow, with the French who played many balls quickly without ever managing to get out of the English pressure at the start. “Usually, we are more efficient in the zone of occupancy. We left a little energy there, and points. We could have gone out faster “, regretted just after the defeat Fabien Galthié.
“Things happened that we hadn’t decided before the match“, pointed the finger at Captain Charles Ollivon. Of course, faced with his” best enemy “, the Perfidious Albion knew that a victory in the Crunch would restore part of his blazon, well tarnished by his worst start to the Tournament since 2005 (1 victory, 2 losses). Eddie Jones’ men did not miss it.
The French have, in addition, a little offered the stick to be beaten. Not just by conceding many penalties at the end of the game, which resulted in Itoje’s try. They also and above all had to prepare for this meeting with practically three weeks without activity, due to the cases of Covid-19 which gradually invaded the group from February 16. Between the positive cases, those who remained in isolation, a short week of preparation undoubtedly played a major role in this delicate end of the meeting, even if no Blue used it as an excuse.
After all the controversies that arose from this cluster within Marcoussis, the French physique and mind were perhaps not at their maximum. Factually, the England team have beaten two nations this year: France, and Italy, which are 32 in a row in this competition.
• The cracked defense against the Welsh
Since Fabien Galthié took control of the XV of France in early 2020, his team had never conceded thirty points in 12 games. It wasn’t until the 13th game for that to happen. At the Stade de France, in the match between the two top names in this 2021 Tournament, the XV du Poireau was the first to find flaws, to prevent France from advancing on the impacts, to hurt him for nearly 80 minutes . He just failed to finish his work, to stay at the level even in stoppage time. Charles Ollivon’s teammates were especially successful in igniting an end of the match which seemed promised to a tricolor disillusion, to live 12 astounding last minutes.
Lethal weapon to punish the opponent with recovery balls, the French defense has cracked, even if this shock will be remembered as a peak of intensity, of suspense, with an outcome worthy of the best thrillers. And you must not shy away from your pleasure. But on arrival, this short success (32-30) condemned the Blues to compensate against Scotland for a negative points difference of 20 units compared to the Welsh.
• Indiscipline too present against Scotland
The France team had its destiny in hand. To win the Tournament, he had to win with the offensive bonus, and 21 points more than Scotland. But this ambitious goal has undoubtedly pushed the Blues to put the cart before the horse, and to rush more than usual. It is perhaps for this, vis-a-vis a Scottish team hard and come to gain its first victory in France since 1999, that the men of Fabien Galthié were penalized 15 times. More than in any other meeting of this Tournament, since so far, they had been penalized 6 times against the Welsh, 9 times against the Irish, 12 times against the English and the Italians.
This hecatomb of sanctions harmed the French defensive and offensive game, and gave a lot of ammunition to a XV du Chardon with a simple and direct game plan: pick and go and harshness in defense.