a dominant pack but a non-existent background… What we liked and disliked in the sad draw of the Blues against Italy

The XV of France, unrecognizable, was held by Italy on Sunday in Lille (13-13). The blue sores seem to be getting worse.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial



Reading time: 4 min

And to think that it could, should have, been worse. A ball which falls when the Italian Garbisi is about to pass the penalty for the win at the last second, a scorer who rushes and a post which comes to save the Blues on this attempt. However, this draw, conceded on Sunday February 25 in Lille, looks like a defeat. Struggling in almost all areas, France has given up on final victory in the 2024 Tournament. But the time for apothecary accounts is already over. She’s in the emergency room.

We liked

The axis of the male, symbolized by Tuilagi

The French pack sometimes looked like men taking on teenagers. This was particularly significant in the closed scrums where the French forwards regularly put the Transalpines, at best on their heels, at worst on their knees. It must be said that with 961 kilos on the scale, the tricolor pack was heavy. More than a quintal more than their opponent in any case. At this level, this difference is colossal. And the right axis of the Blues, made up of Atonio and Tuilagi, weighed in with all their weight to confirm that the XV of France had the best scrum of the Tournament. The second named, through his audacity and skill with the ball in hand, will have scored points with his coach.

The Squadra is no longer flat

Faced with a French team that was so imprecise and not so “killer”, Italy clearly had a card to play. It remained stuck in his sleeve for a long time, but it ended up coming out at the end of the match where the Transalpines almost snatched victory at the last second. Fate was not favorable to them, but Gonzalo Quesada can nevertheless rejoice in this start. Doomed to criticism after two defeats in this edition, Italy proved that it had something to answer for. Too bad, this was done at the expense of France.

Hanging on to the numbers

Yes, the game offered by the XV of France was quite basic and predictable. Poor will advance some. So, to reassure ourselves, we will have to turn to the cold rigor of statistics. It doesn’t thrill or warm the heart, but it can console. In the first period, Ollivon’s partners had 60% possession, while occupying 70% of the opposing field. And, at the final whistle, they had beaten 33 Italians (compared to 12 French for Italy), they had won all of their rucks and were almost flawless in touch (15 out of 16). But here it is, dominating is not winning and, failing to have been able to materialize their highlights, they continued to flout their rugby, committing 19 turnovers, compared to 11 for the Italians, although they were not masters in the matter.

We didn’t like

The mechanics of imprecision

Not so long ago, the blue machine seemed perfectly oiled. Since the start of the Tournament, she suddenly seized up. There is always a little grain of sand. Sometimes three times nothing, but enough to “eat the leaf”. The devil is in the details, they say, and France no longer controls them. Symptomatic, this action of the 12th minute where Fickou does not fix enough, then, in the process, Danty sends a pass forward to Mauvaka although well placed on his wing. In the 32nd minute, another example of wasted opportunities with Penaud, one on one, who completely unscrews his follow-up kick for himself. For the direct key in this case. The desire is there but the technical accuracy is gone. The watchmaker Galthié must review numerous settings.

To lose your mind

After Willemse against Ireland and Atonio against Scotland, a new face has emerged from the ranks, that of Jonathan Danty. And always for the same reason: high tackle. Don’t the French know how to stoop? Do they have a morbid obsession with opposing cervicals? The fact is that these strong minds cost their people dearly. If Antonio had escaped with a simple yellow, the other two were ordered to leave their teammates at 14. Crippling.

The return of lean cows?

The deflating soufflé. Sad animal post-coitum. We can use the images we want, nothing replaces the feeling of emptiness and abandonment that this XV of France gives us after four years of almost uninterrupted euphoria. Since the quarter-final at home lost against South Africa, a spring has broken. No one can deny it now. Beyond the fraying results, it is the thread of the game that the Blues seem to have lost. And, with it disappearing, its terrible corollary: the return of black bread. After the feast to which the XV of France had accustomed us, will we have to fall back on rogatons again?

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