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The World Cup elimination messages Galthie got from Henry, Woodward

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

France boss Fabien Galthie has revealed he was contacted by both Graham Henry and Clive Woodward the day after Les Bleus were eliminated from the Rugby World Cup last month. The French were knocked out at the quarter-final stage, losing by a single point to eventual winners South Africa.

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It was a crushing blow as the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam winners were hotly tipped to win the World Cup on home soil. It was also Galthie’s first finals as head coach and he has taken solace from the message he got in the aftermath from Henry and Woodward.

Both those former coaches were eliminated at the quarter-finals when they were first in charge of New Zealand and England respectively at the finals in 2007 and 1999, but they rebounded to win the trophy four years later in 2011 and 2003 – something Galthie will now look to do with France at Australia 2027.

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Asked in a long-form interview in Midi Olympique if he was inspired by how Henry and Woodward successfully responded to their failed first efforts by winning the Webb Ellis Cup at the second time of asking, Galthie revealed: “It’s funny that you tell me about that because two of them wrote to me the day after the game.

“Two who have had that experience. I quoted one of their phrases: sometimes things that need to happen don’t happen. And I thought that was very fair. And in their message, there was also this advice, or this sharing of experience: time will allow us to clarify things that seem obvious.”

Galthie wouldn’t go into the exact specifics of the messages but he has taken inspiration from what was written by Henry and Woodward. “I’d rather not tell you, but I had two very nice testimonies of references that you mentioned. These men have known success and also difficulty.

“The next day, you know… We read without reading. These two have touched the Holy Grail but they are not French. When I was hot (the day after losing to South Africa), I didn’t feel anything but over time, I came back to it [the messages]. Time took its toll and I understood what they felt and what they wanted to share.

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“They passed through territories that we have been using for the past month. It’s interesting to hear what they have to share.”

Looking ahead to the immediate future, Galthie admitted a decision needs to be taken on how France approach their summer tours. In recent years they have visited Japan and Australia with understrength squads and they are now reportedly scheduled to tour Argentina in 2024.

“We’re going to take it step by step. How are we going to work? Do I go back to a team of France that plays only eight so-called ‘premium’ matches where we play only November, February and March without playing the tours outside, with a team of France ‘development’ for the summer tours?

“The calendar is going to change in two years, how are we going to play? These are discussions that we are going to have with Jean-Marc (Lhermet), with the League… I decided to protect the players, to select the best players for only eight games.

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“The other nations have them play at least 12 Tests. Our best players therefore play fewer major international matches than the others, a third less. Do we continue like this? It’s going to be an interesting discussion. But when you’re playing at the international level, you first have to accept that you’re going into the unknown.”

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