Former Brive and Montferrand back rower Olivier Magne is the latest luminary of French rugby to criticise the current squad and has pulled no punches in his assessment of the side.
Magne, who won 89 caps for France in a 10-year international career, is currently a consultant for Eurosport, but he also spent three seasons coaching the French U20 side and knows well the challenges that face Les Bleus at the highest level.
Speaking to Midi Olympique,the 45-year-old highlighted France’s inability to compete at maximum intensity for 80 minutes and the subsequent effects on their decision-making, particularly in late-game situations.
He went on to state that this generation of French players have become associated with defeat and that it has psychologically traumatised them, adding that they have forgotten rugby requires responsibility and initiative.
The former flanker went even further, advocating a full changing of the guard at the senior level, insisting he would take a group of younger players and “embark on a new adventure”, with the current generation “incapable of winning anything”. Among the players Magne highlighted as capable of stepping up and being given “long-term responsibilities” were Sekou Macalou and the Toulouse half-back pairing of Antoine Dupont – the number one ranked scrum-half on the RPI – and Romain Ntamack, combining the club pairing at the heart of the French team.
Ntamack, 19, made his international debut on Friday evening against Wales and has been playing well for Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup and Top 14, whilst Macalou and Dupont are two players Magne knows well from his time as the French U20 coach.
Magne was also quick to praise the abilities of Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez, stating that Parra “should’ve been the greatest captain in the history of the French team”, but maintained that it is now the moment to “set the kids up and, if necessary, give them some time.”
A trip to Twickenham awaits France on Sunday, where they will meet an England side buoyed by their impressive win over Ireland in Dublin, something which should only add to the fiery nature of the annual ‘Le Crunch’ between the two nations.
It’s unlikely Jacques Brunel will make sweeping changes to his side for such a testing challenge, but with a World Rugby U20 Championship-winning squad waiting in the wings and the growing condemnations of the current side, it seems only a matter of time before Brunel’s hand is forced to throw in some fresh faces alongside the likes of Ntamack and Demba Bamba.
Watch: Jonny May and Mako Vunipola speak to RugbyPass after England’s win in Dublin
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