France are one big win away from a squad-defining moment. The young group enters the France Autumn Internationals optimistic that ‘their time is now’.
This reporter joins many by asking ‘will it come for France against the All Blacks in the autumn internationals?’ After a disappointing summer tour in Australia and an under-par Six Nations, Le Bleus need to remind people of their World Cup aspirations.
Disappointing Summer tour still lingers ahead of France Autumn Internationals
On paper, it was a 2-1 loss down under. However, with the resurgence of Australia in recent weeks, that tour is looking less of an issue.
The team France fielded in all three tests was vastly changed in comparison to their usual starting line-up. Fabien Galthié made it very clear that France was using this tour to develop squad depth. In the third and decisive test against the Wallabies, Galthié had only three players starting who played in the final Six Nations game against Scotland. Yet with only a handful of points over the entire tour separating the sides, the disappointment held can now become motivation for these Autumn test matches.
Front line players Gaël Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont, and Grégory Alldritt (above) had the whole summer off to rest and recover. All for different reasons. These four players get into a World XV, so to all Australians out there, I am sure were happy enough they were left in France.
The point of the matter is France was ‘one kick away from winning’ a series in Australia, who subsequently would go on to beat the Springboks back-to-back (after the disappointment against the All Blacks). True, France was close, and remember in July, were without several leading names.
Undeniably, their depth is scary. Squad selection is no longer a limiting factor. Third-choice players are proving again and again, that they are of international quality.
2021 November Squad selection
Following his serious knee injury at the end of last season, France will continue to be without their talisman and captain Charles Ollivon. In his place, Antoine Dupont has been named captain, already showing this early on in his career that he is one of the core leaders. Expect plenty of tap-and-go penalties.
Camille Chat, Pierre-Louis Barassi, and Teddy Thomas also miss out through injury. Nine uncapped players have been selected alongside the return of the big names. This provides both experience and opportunity, as France will look to build even more depth; especially against Georgia.
The thing that will excite French fans the most will be seeing the return of the star-studded duo Dupont and Romain Ntamack (see below). After winning the double last season, they will look to carry this winning mentality into the French squad.
What threats does France face this Autumn?
Argentina is up first for France. They have a history of getting one over Le Bleus – namely beating France at their home World Cup in 2007. It will always hurt the French. Most recently, France beat Argentina through a Camille Lopez dropkick in the last World Cup.
Overall though, it is never easy against Argentina.
Following what should be a great opener, France then plays Georgia in Bordeaux. No doubt this will provide opportunities for their fringe players.
After their tussle with Georgia (and we hope it will be of some competitive nature), Le Bleus return to the Stade de France for the ultimate finale: the All Blacks on home soil. Surely the game of the autumn internationals? New Zealand and France will both see this as a dress rehearsal ahead the opening game of the Rugby World Cup in 2023. Coincidentally, it is also scheduled to be played in the capital, Paris.
New Zealand is in red hot form and will want to put down their own marker against France. For them, there is no doubt that this is the most important game on tour. The verdict could come down to factors, including, a long International season for the visitors and a fresh intensity from the hosts.
Verdict on France Autumn Internationals calendar
Something just feels like this is France’s time. If their front-line players remain injury-free with New Zealand at the end of a long season, I sense a big upset. However, is that disrespectful to call it an upset? And if it is an ‘upset’ (using the term loosely perhaps) will it make France favourites in 2023?
With all this said, sport is weird. The past has taught us, namely all rugby fans around the world (especially the French), to never overlook Argentina. So, before we can commence debates on France vs New Zealand, the old cliché is appropriate; one step at a time, with Argentina first on the list.
🎙️ Pour nous il revient sur ces duels toujours âpres contre les argentins ! 👇
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) October 21, 2021
Nevertheless, a fair verdict for the France autumn internationals might well be to win three out of three, By form and for the opposition scheduled, winning is more than likely for the French side.
‘Allez Le Bleus!’
“Main photo credit”
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