The Blues play this Saturday (7.45am) their second test match in Tokyo against the Japanese, defeated a week ago. A final push to round off a perfect season.
The end of the tunnel is near. At the end of a new marathon season, the XV of France will play on Saturday the last game of its 2021-2022 season. A final test match, in Tokyo, against the Japanese defeated in two stages last week. A hooked first act (13-13 at the break) followed by a demonstration of offensive efficiency from Charles Ollivon and his teammates (42-23 at the end). “It’s a test match, so we’re super focused, super motivated. We look forward to finishing the tour in the best way possible, insists second-line Thibaud Flament. The motivation is there, it’s strong: Japan is a very good team, which made it quite difficult for us last weekend.
Should we expect a change of direction from the Japanese, who had tried to offer some play last week but broke their teeth on the tricolor defense? Fabien Galthié wants to believe in a change of tactics from his opponents: “Hopefully there is more balance in his game, although last week we were surprised by his style, his DNA is still carrying a lot of the ball in front of the defense.“And add:”They will certainly offer more dispossession, which is more like European rugby.»
During this Asian tour, the tricolor squad – which decided to renew 14 of the 15 starters in the first race – was able to quickly find their grades, without their usual managers. Some regular liners have managed to get out of the game, to show that they can be operational when asked. And the small novelty of this match will be the great international debut of Max Spring, the young rearguard of Racing 92, author of a remarkable season despite the strong competition that reigns in the Hauts-de-Seine. “His actions push us to give him a chance”greets Fabien Galthié.
Sixteen players will not have played
Like last year in Australia (where Melvyn Jaminet had acted as a revelation), the tour at the other end of the world will have expanded the number of candidates for the 2023 World Cup in France. “I can tell you that in the team here, there are players who will join the group from France“, Stressed the tricolor coach. Although 16 of the 41 players brought for the occasion will not have played.
“One can imagine a form of legitimate disappointment, even some frustration. We just want it to be temporary. This is the message we sent them: they did not waste time in progression., wanted to specify the manager Raphaël lIbanez. Adding: “This week is the last in Japan, it is the last rugby week of the season but we also consider it the last before the first meeting of the autumn assembly.»
Does the season end undefeated? A first
Before returning to France, the Blues can take charge of their numbers. He first ends his undefeated summer trip, which would be a first since 2006 and a trip to Romania (62-14) and then to South Africa (36-26). By then, these blues could go down in French rugby history by equaling the record of ten victories set … between 1931 and 1937. And by then, France had faced Germany eight times. This time, the symbolism would be much stronger. “It’s a journalist thingThibaud Flament smiles. Finally, France could end the unbeaten international season, which would be a great first.
Then it will be time to meet again, in November, with these same Japanese in Toulouse at the end of the autumn tour. But first you have to unpack with two big fish from the South: Australia at the Stade de France and then South Africa, world champion, in Marseille. The real test of the year 2022.