Sport / Rugby

AFP
Wire Service
3 minute read
21 Nov 2021
1:50 pm

France ‘building’ for World Cup after All Blacks win

AFP

Les Bleus' next fixture is in the 2022 Six Nations, with Italy travelling to the French capital in early February.

France captain Antoine Dupont in action against New Zealand. Picture: Getty Images

France’s impressive victory over New Zealand on Saturday put down a marker for the hosts’ potential at the next Rugby World Cup.

The sides will meet again on September 8, 2023, in the tournament’s opening game, also at the Stade de France.

The win marked former skipper Fabien Galthie’s 20th game in charge after he took over following the last World Cup, a competition Les Bleus have yet to win.

“The squad believe in themselves in a collective way. They don’t get worked up about things. It’s important to say that,” Galthie told reporters after the record success. 

“This victory won’t change us, we won’t take ourselves for someone else. 

“It belongs to us. The team is building. It’s a passage, a step, our 20th match on our journey,” he added.

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Galthie appointed scrum-half Antoine Dupont as captain for the three-match series with regular skipper Charles Ollivon out with a serious knee injury.

Dupont’s side beat Argentina and Georgia earlier this month.

After leading the All Blacks by 18 points at the break they were pinned back to two points with 20 minutes left in Paris on the weekend.

“It’s an important step in our adventure, to be able to play against the best countries. To be able to have an indicator and to show we have the quality. 

“We can build on this game. We were worried and maybe it could have turned the other way. We managed to stay calm and put our game in place. 

“There’s a lot of positives that we can use to build on,” he added.

Points to improve

In early November Galthie spoke about the need to be in games until the closing moments after losing fixtures, including to Australia and Scotland this year, in the dying minutes.

He also handed debuts to lock Thibaud Flament, scrum-half Maxime Lucu and winger Matthis Lebel.

After experimenting with regular fly-half Romain Ntamack at centre and in-form Matthieu Jalibert in the stand-off role against the Pumas and the Lelos Galthie reverted to type for the All Blacks victory.

“The building of the series, how we managed the squad, we had 42 players, we saw a lot of players, competition, we started to get strong coordinations,” the spectacle-wearing 52-year-old said.

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“It allowed us, whatever happened, to be in a game at the end. There wasn’t one match where we weren’t in a position to win.

“The satisfaction is confirmed due to competition. Collectively the team are present,” he added.

Les Bleus’ next fixture is in the 2022 Six Nations, with Italy travelling to the French capital in early February.

Galthie challenged his squad to keep consistency in a campaign which also includes welcoming Ireland and England to the Stade de France.

“There are points to improve,” Galthie said.

“We have to maintain this level of performance. It will show that a team is there, a team that counts.”

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