2020 has been a disappointing year on so many levels, but there have been a few silver linings here and there.
One such example is the official revival of French rugby, something that’s been dead since the 2011 World Cup final. Following up on a strong Six Nations campaign, Fabien Galthie’s side will head into the Autumn Nations Cup as a strong favorite.
France’s commitment to fostering home grown talent over the past five years is beginning to bear the fruits of its labor. With an average player age of 24 years and seven months, this France squad is young, dangerous, and only going to get better.
Should France pull through and bring home their first trophy since the 2010 Six Nations, it could be the beginning of a long period of French dominance. However, they’ll face some stiff competition over the next month, particularly if predictions hold and they meet rivals England in the ANC final.
Props: Cyril Baille; Demba Bamba; Georges-Heri Colombe; Jean-Baptiste Gros; Mohamed Haouas
Hookers: Camille Chat; Julien Marchand; Peato Mauvaka
Locks: Kilian Geraci; Bernard Le Roux; Romain Taofifénua; Paul Willemse
Flankers: Dylan Cretin; François Cros; Anthony Jelonch; Charles Ollivon; Baptiste Pesenti
No. 8’s: Grégory Alldritt; Selevasio Tolofua
Scrum-halves: Antoine Dupont; Baptiste Serin
Fly-halves: Matthieu Jalibert; Romain Ntamack
Centers: Gaël Fickou; Olivier Klemenczak; Virimi Vakatawa; Arthur Vincent
Wings: Vincent Rattez; Athur Retière; Gabin Villière
Fullbacks: Anthony Bouthier; Thomas Ramos
One could make a genuine case for any position on the field as a strength for Les Bleus at the moment. From the front row all the way to the fullback, France is deep and capable all across the park. However, if it must be whittled down to one position you can’t look past the best player in the world right now – scrum-half Antoine Dupont.
The French maestro has brought a whole new meaning to the position, and is poised for a run at World Player of the Year for 2020. Explosive, technical, and intelligent, there isn’t a part of his game that’s missing. Backing up Dupont is another creative and game-breaking type of player in Baptiste Serin, who can play as both a scrum-half and a fly-half.
Between Dupont and Serin, France has two of the best operators in the #9 shirt on the planet.
As alluded to before, France essentially doesn’t have a weakness. However, if there is possibly an area that could be exploited it’s the front row and the French props. While still quite good, the props don’t strike fear into opponents in the way that the back row, the halfbacks, or the centers do.
Nevertheless, the French scrum is handy enough to provide a good platform for all their weapons, and as long as they maintain discipline, France’s front rowers should make out just fine in the Autumn Nations Cup.
For the first time in a while, expectations are riding very high for French rugby. They head into the Autumn Nations Cup as heavy Pool B favorites, and many people’s pick to win the whole thing. The question now is: can they still perform with a target on their back?
Pool play encounters with Fiji and Scotland both serve as revenge games; France lost to Scotland in March to end any Grand Slam hopes and fell to Fiji at home in the fall of 2018. The French team also felt it underperformed in the Six Nations bout with Italy back in February, only winning 35-22.
Better outings against all three sides look likely, and barring any sort of implosion, France should take care of business issue-free in Pool B.
France vs Fiji | Nov. 15 | 10:15 am ET
Scotland vs France | Nov. 22 | 10:00 am ET
France vs Italy | Nov. 28 | 3:00 pm ET
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