A DECADE ON, THE OMENS ARE GOOD FOR FRANCE
Current France team well-placed to emulate 2010 Grand Slam heroics
Could French rugby’s last title-winning team, the Grand Slam winners in the 2010 Six Nations, be the ‘running rugby’ template for the current French team? 2020 results suggest the omens are good.
From the turn of the millennium, France cemented itself as a driving force in European rugby, winning five of the next eleven Six Nation tournaments, including Grand Slams in 2002, 2004 and 2010.
But in the next decade, the team flattered to deceive, consistently unable to perform at a high level.
Following the 2011 departure of Marc Lièvremont, who delivered a Six Nations Grand Slam and a World Cup final, three coaches came and went with no titles, a win percentage under 40% - and two World Cup quarter final exits.
In 2019, then Head of the French Federation, Bernard Laporte lamented: “We have a French team which no longer makes us dream”.
But since the late 2019 arrival of Fabien Galthié, a former Stade Français scrum-half with over 60 caps to his name, belief has grown that Les Blues can once again be a rugby powerhouse. Since his arrival France have won five from six, including two wins over Wales and wins against England and Ireland.
2020 might have been the year France turned the corner.
And they are returning to that style of attacking, attractive, running rugby - a style showcased weekly in the TOP 14.
There are sound comparisons to be drawn from France’s 2010 and 2020 Six Nations squads: Firstly, the youthful exuberance of the half-back pairings and the attacking intent shown from both sides.
In 2010, a nine and ten partnership was forged between 22-year-old Parra and 23-year-old Trinh-Duc. This partnership carried the 2010 squad to their first Grand Slam for 6 years. Dupont, 24 and Ntamack, 21, can replicate this success using their ability, flair, and club relationship.
Dupont named joint player of the 2020 Six Nations.
The second valid 2020/2020 comparison is the number of French internationals represented in the latter stages of the European club competitions. In the 2010 European club semi-finals, France were represented by 13 players across three TOP 14 clubs: Toulon, Biarritz and, Heineken Cup winners, Toulouse.
But that stat was bettered in the 2019-20 season where 19 members of France’s 2020 Six Nations squad were playing in the European semi-finals for Toulon, Bordeaux, Toulouse and losing Champions Cup finalists, Racing 92.
Have I convinced you yet?
A return to France’s traditional rugby philosophy has been clear in Galthié’s five competitive games in charge - with 17 tries scored in five games. For the record, the 2010 Six Nations team scored 14 tries in the same number of games. Not only has the number of tries increased but also the style of play Galthié has implemented has shown to be a fast, attractive and more importantly, successful.