Source: Midi Olympique
The bi-weekly rugby paper’s front page headline reads ‘Pas au niveau,’ – ‘Not at the level’ – suggesting that France haven’t been up to scratch in this year’s Six Nations.
Advice for improving their fortunes on pages two and three include getting captain Thierry Dusautoir back to fitness as soon as possible, finding a settled “first-choice XV” and trying new players like 20-year-old Toulouse flanker Yacouba Camara and South African native Rory Kockott, who qualifies for France this summer.
In terms of game plan, Nicolas Zanardi writes that les Bleus must “move from disorder to order,” as well as catching up with Wales, England and Ireland in technical skill levels.
Addressing Saturday’s match against Ireland, Marc Duzan outlines that the French delivered their most accomplished performance of the tournament under the headline ‘A glimmer in the night.’ On the same page, Midol reveal their team of the tournament.
Source: Midi Olympique
The technical review of the match includes further questioning of the French scrum, the ‘clumsiness’ of some of their errors in possession, regrets over the introduction of Jean-Marc Doussain for Maxime Machenaud as place-kicker [forced by cramp for the latter], as well as Ireland’s ability to hold onto the pill.
Dealing with the positives, Pierre-Laurent Gou states that the partnership of Louis Picamoles and Damien Chouly in the back row offers promise, while Grégory Letort writes that Rémi Talès was impressive at out-half.
Turning to Ireland’s success, there is tribute to our Kiwi head coach under the title ‘La cuisine Schmidt’. The article outlines how the Midas-like Schmidt has ‘transformed’ Ireland with his coaching and personality.
Underneath, credit is given to the IRFU’s structure, “a pyramid-shaped” system that has helped a “country of 4 million people and 20,000 licensed players” to emerge as Europe’s leading side.
The “relentless” Paul O’Connell comes in for praise too, with a tackle count of 15 from the “Munster giant” integral to Ireland’s win. Midol‘s 14-page coverage of the game finishes with recognition of Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement under the headline ‘The ultimate green.’
Of Irish interest further back in the paper is an interesting interview with TheScore.ie columnist James Hart, who discusses having attended Ireland v Italy as a guest of IRFU president Pat Fitzgerald, as well as having spoken to Leinster about joining them in the future.
This morning’s L’Équipe has run a feature interview with France head coach Philippe Saint-André, who says “I have never spent as good a week with the French team.” The former international wing is in optimistic form about les Bleus moving forward.
There are seven Irishmen in the paper’s team of the Six Nations; Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Jamie Heaslip, Jonny Sexton and Brian O’Driscoll. There are also short pieces on O’Driscoll’s “last words” and Gordon D’Arcy having shaved his beard off.
Yesterday’s L’Équipe dealt with the match itself in more detail, with the first five pages of Sunday’s edition dedicated to France’s defeat. The front page headline read ‘The heart was there,’ referencing the fact that les Bleus had delivered their best performance of the campaign.
Current Montpellier head coach Fabien Galthié gave France a “negative assessment,” pointing out that a fourth-placed finish in a year when they had three home games was unacceptable.
There was tribute to Brian O’Driscoll under the headline ‘Leaving as a master’ on the following page, which also included Saint-André’s insistence that his squad is progressing.
The coverage finished with some rather harsh player ratings for both teams, as none of the French players scored higher than 6.5/10 [Alexandre Lapandary], while only two Irish players were deemed worthy of an 8/10 [Sexton and O'Connell].
Aujourd’hui en France
Current Munster backs coach Simon Mannix provides the expert opinion on les Bleus‘ struggles during the 2014 Six Nations. The Kiwi spent four years working with Racing Métro, meaning he has a strong depth of knowledge on the French game.
Mannix suggests that “at times, the French give the impression of not understanding anything.” He goes on to detail that Irish players work harder than their French counterparts, demanding more of their coaches and themselves in preparing for games.
The Munster coach also suggests that les Bleus could benefit from bringing on board a foreign coach who might add “a different view of things.” The piece finishes with Mannix asserting that France will be dangerous at the 2015 World Cup thanks to stars like Wesley Fofana.