Introduced into the head coach position, Fabien Galthié is hopeful of bringing a fresh brand of French Rugby flair, with his youthful 2020 Six Nations squad.
Evidence of this will only come during the Guinness Six Nations championship, which begins on Saturday, February 1. Yet the fresh new leadership is a clear pointer to the desire of the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) to close the chapter on the past four years.
In with the new, and certainly ‘out with the old’. The unsuccessful Jacques Brunel era is no more, and former Montpellier and Toulon director, Fabien Galthié looks to make his mark.
Fabien Galthie the man in charge of French rugby until 2023.
• Forwards coach: William Servat
• Attack coach: Laurent Labit
• Defence coach: Shaun Edwards
• Lineout coach: Karim Ghezal
• Team manager Raphael Ibanez #LesBleus #GritSportsRugby pic.twitter.com/aDtWoR6kOD
— Grit Sports Live (@Grit_Sports) November 9, 2019
Fabien Galthié brings fresh French Rugby flair in 2020 squad
Leaving his mark as a player, when in 2002, Galthié captained France to a Six Nations Grand Slam. Those heady days are long behind Le Bleus, who have not tasted success in the Championship, since 2010, it seems an age ago.
To complete the sweep of leading roles, Guilhem Guirado has retired, meaning a new skipper was required. So when naming his 42 player squad, Fabien Galthié named Toulon flanker Charles Ollivon the heir apparent.
In a pointer to his wish to begin-a-fresh, the new head coach chose only one player aged above 30 years of age. With five players aged 20, this could be the youngest group to compete in the Six Nations in many years.
Of the 19 backs in the new squad, the average age is 23.7 years, and if they can display the famed French Rugby flair at an early age, the future will be bright in France.
Although, in an interview published on the FFR website, Fabien Galthié spoke of the mix youth and experience. “There is a form of continuity. There are 16 players who have either participated in the World Cup or its preparation, it is almost a team.
“Then there is a natural renewal because players have been gaining strength in recent seasons through successful club performances.”
“So we went to meet them as well as those of their coaches. We have not prohibited anything, we are not closing anything but we have a short-term time with the Tournament and the Tour in Argentina this summer. Then there is the prism of 2023 so we wanted to find a balance.”
France to look for ‘perfect balance’ at Six Nations
Finding that perfect balance, will not be as simple as a new regime. Time is not on the side, with fans and stakeholders almost naturally asking for results in 2020. And the coaching group realizes that.
Team manager Raphaël Ibanez explained; “We value our principles and what the French team represents. The only constant that we can do is that of this morning when we called the players. It turns out that they are all determined to start this adventure. It’s motivating for each of us!”
That group attitude, the consolidated effort to return French Rugby to the heights of 2010 is surely motivation enough. Underlined by two U20 World Championship winning teams – six of whom are selected in the French squad, plus the undoubted talents of players, like Gael Fickou. One of the more experienced members of the group now, with 51 caps.
He and others, like Anthony Bouthier, Baptiste Serin, Bernard Le Roux, can offer advice to the long list of international rookies. This includes Lyon lock Killian Geraci, Clermont Auvergne back-row forward Alexandre Fischer, plus backs Maxime Lucu, Louis Carbonel, and Arthur Vincent.
🏆 Voici les 42 joueurs retenus pour préparer le Tournoi des #SixNations 2020 !
Les Bleus débutent leur préparation à Nice le 19 Janvier et vous donnent rendez-vous le dimanche 2 février au Stade de France contre l'Angleterre à 16h !#NeFaisonsXV #XVdeFrance pic.twitter.com/a8AJ4PjSh9
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) January 8, 2020
While results are hard to predict, if this 2020 French Rugby team can enter the championship with enthusiasm, then their opening fixture against Rugby World Cup silver medal-winning England, might be the perfect first Test. Challenge yourself against the best, to [hopefully] become the best.
Fabien Galthié wishes to bring fresh French Rugby flair to the 2020 Six Nations squad. And World Rugby may witness the resurgence of the one team who is yet to drink champagne from the pinnacle event. The 2020 Championship is the first step, on that long pathway.
France v England – Saturday, February 1. Stade de France
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