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'Is it a happy squad?': Making sense of what is going on with France

By Josh Raisey
French huddle ahead of kick-off in the Six Nations international rugby union match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on February 10, 2024. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

France may have come away with a win on Saturday against Scotland at Murrayfield, but so far this Guinness Six Nations they have been far from the side that the rugby world has grown accustomed to in recent years.


A record loss to Ireland in round one was followed by a listless display in Edinburgh saved by a late moment of magic from Louis Bielle-Biarrey and and devilishly complex TMO call.

There is one obvious explanation for this slump from France, and that is Antoine Dupont’s absence this Championship while he focuses on sevens. Alongside Romain Ntamack’s long-term knee injury, as well as Anthony Jelonch’s (and now even Gregory Alldritt’s), Les Bleus have had the spine of their team ripped from them.

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TRY or NO TRY – Boks Office discuss Scotland vs France | RPTV

In the latest episode of Boks Office, the guys and special guest Matt Stevens chat about the late drama in the Six Nations clash between Scotland and France. Watch the full episode on RugbyPass TV now

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TRY or NO TRY – Boks Office discuss Scotland vs France | RPTV

In the latest episode of Boks Office, the guys and special guest Matt Stevens chat about the late drama in the Six Nations clash between Scotland and France. Watch the full episode on RugbyPass TV now

Watch now

But their problems may lie deeper than that, as the Boks Office recently discussed on RugbyPass TV.

Former Springboks Hanyani Shimange and Jean de Villiers were joined by ex England prop Matt Stevens to go over the latest round of Six Nations rugby, including France’s current struggles. The former centre de Villiers feels they may be suffering a “hangover” from crashing out of their own World Cup at the quarter-final stage to his compatriots, while explaining the mental hammer-blow that would have been to the team.

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“They’re lacking confidence,” the 2007 World Cup winner said.

“A lot of people have said, it’s the hangover of the World Cup and the expectation of the World Cup, not being able to deliver on that. You kind of get the feeling that that’s what you’re seeing from that French team. Then you start asking these questions- is that really going on? Is it a happy squad? Can they recover?

“And maybe also understanding the mental side of what they went through- they were certain that they would win the World Cup. It definitely comes across that way. And the disappointment of that, the mental side of high-performance sport and the effect that it has when you don’t live up to the expectations.”


Stevens, who spent the final year of his career in France playing for Toulon, added: “France, it’s an old cliche, but they’re a very emotive sporting country. Having played there, there’s a lot of passion and not a huge amount of strategy that goes into getting ready for a game.

“It’s like ‘this is our earth, this is what we’re going to protect, we’re going to go there and die for our country.’ Then they lose someone who was quite critical in Antoine Dupont. They’re a big talisman team, which I always think is a weakness for an international team, which is the opposite of Ireland who have got depth and experience across the pitch.”

Fabien Galthie’s side resume their Six Nations campaign next weekend against Italy in Lille before facing Wales in Cardiff and hosting England in Lyon in the final round.



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