What is French DNA? Are the current French team playing to their DNA? We ask these questions and more.
Before we look at the French DNA, a huge shout out must go out to Ambroise Blanluet for taking the time to answer our questions and give an insight from a French fan. Thanks for this Ambroise.
1. Game Plan/style. What is the traditional style of play for the Test team?
The traditional style of play for the test team is rather complex. It has always been a mix of two philosophies coexisting in all good French teams. The first part of French identity is a hard-hitting forward pack very good at scrummaging but not necessarily in lineouts nor rucks. This comes from club rugby in France which was essentially based on that philosophy.
The second part of French identity is what was called “French Flair” by the English journalists. It is a very undefined mixture actually but could be characterised as the capacity and willingness to play an unstructured rugby, hugely efficient in the counterattack.
2. Who were the great players in the past, up until those just retired?
- Hooker: William Servat
- Second row: Walter Spanghero, Fabien Pelous
- Flanker: Jean Pierre Rives, Olivier Magne, Thierry Dusautoir, Serge Betsen
- Scrum-half: Jacques Fouroux, Fabien Galthié, Dimitri Yachvili, Pierre Berbizier
- Centers: Philippe Sella, Yannick Jauzion, Jo Maso
- Fullbacks: Serge Blanco, Pierre Villepreux
3. Is there any pattern in those players? Their positions. For example, do certain countries produce talented players in certain positions?
- Forward pack, there are 4 flankers but no prop and no number 8, just one hooker and one second row.
- The halves, there are 4 scrum-halves and no flyhalf.
- The backs there are no wingers but 3 centres and 2 fullbacks.
4. Is that country now playing a modern version of their traditional game?
Since the beginning of the professional era, France never managed to gather the two components of their DNA in one team. Laporte, Lievremont and Saint André era: forward pack dominated style of play. Noves was trying to bring back some of the French Flair styles of play but it is not working because it’s forward pack isn’t dominant enough.
5. Are key players in those old positions strong today?
- Flankers: huge lack of really good flankers (Gourdon might be one but to be confirmed)
- 9: definitely a lot of talent there (Dupont, Serin, Parra, …)
- Centres: a rather good generation (Fofana, Penaud, Bastareaud)
- Fullback: nobody has really been consistent. Spedding might be the most consistent one but definitely not in the mould of a classic French 15.
The 1014 review how they see the Six Nations DNA
Let us know what you think? Have we missed something? Is there a blatant omission?
Author: The 1014 Rugby
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