The Blues focused on their quest for a first crown


The French rugby team has never missed a World Cup, reaching the final three times with as many defeats. The tenth edition of this competition will begin in September with an ambitious and successful France XV hoping to win their first rugby world title. It will have home advantage with the competition taking place in ten cities in France.

Will the Blues be thinking on the field or in the dressing room on September 8, 2023? The answer will depend on the outcome of their World Cup opener against the formidable All Blacks at the Stade de France. A big early shock for the Blues, who will then face Uruguay, Italy and Namibia in their group matches, less formidable opponents.

The Blues must finish first or second in Group A to qualify for the quarterfinals. France, who have not lost a match since July 17, 2021, is a goal they can reach given their results over the past two years. A run of 13 unbeaten wins in 2022 allowed them to win the Grand Slam in the Six Nations last year.

New Zealand are on the long list of teams the Blues have beaten in the last 18 months. France XV clearly dominated the All Blacks (40-25) at the Stade de France in November 2021. It was a crucial success for the French, who were able to end their 14-game losing streak against New Zealand and also make up for it. With confidence in the opening match of the World Cup at this same venue.

This meeting in Dionysian land will start a contest where the Blues will confirm their status as favourites. Since the last World Cup in Japan, where the French lost to Wales in the quarter-finals (19-20), the French rugby players are now showing great consistency under the leadership of coach Fabien Galthie. They have been able to dominate opponents with very different profiles and, for example, have come from behind to win against Australia (30-29) in November.

France again became “the main country of rugby”.

The Blues rely on a young and talented group with high-quality elements shining through, starting with Antoine Dupont, the 2021 World Player of the Year and 2022 Six Nations Player of the Year. There is no shortage of players to prepare for this competition and options in every position, so as to be able to compensate for the injury packages that will hit the next eight months.

During the autumn tour, which saw the Blues beat Australia, South Africa and Japan, this management chose to rely on the same players, making only changes due to injuries or suspensions. The same strategy should be adopted during the 2023 edition of the Six Nations tournament, which begins on February 5 with a duel for France against Italy.

But this year’s Six Nations promises to be more complicated for the Blues due to their tough schedule, which includes a trip to Ireland, who are currently ahead of France in the World Rugby world rankings, and then to England, who are France. He has not won the tournament since 2005.

As manager Fabien Galthié reminded us in his press conference this week, the Blues are not short of ambition. “For this Six Nations, we will try to repeat what we did last year,” he said, again insisting that France, “the main rugby nation”, has the status to take over.

The coveted Webb Ellis Trophy since 1987

These two away games will be very interesting tests for Fabien Galthié, who will see if his players are capable of producing the same level of performance on the field of the major world rugby teams. They have four matches over the summer, including two against Scotland, to prepare for the 2023 World Cup.

If they are to succeed on home soil, the French players will need to manage the pressure of hosting this event at home. They know how much the French public have wanted the Webb Ellis trophy since 1987, the first edition of the Rugby World Cup. The anticipation is even stronger as the Blues are among the favorites to win the tenth edition.

French manager Raphael Ibañez will be able to remind the players of the importance of starting this competition in the best conditions. In 2007, he captained the France XV that lost to Argentina (12–17) in the World Cup opener at the Stade de France. A disappointment that did not stop the French from qualifying for the quarter-finals and succeeding against the All Blacks. They then lost to England and eventually finished fourth in the edition.

The French team’s aim, of course, is to go one better this time and become only the second country in the northern hemisphere to win the Rugby World Cup after England in 2003. With a huge advantage, playing this match at home, in front of the fans, has also become very ambitious.

20 teams for the title

The 2023 World Cup, which will be held in ten French cities from September 8 to October 28, will consist of 20 selections divided into four groups for the world championship. France 24 brings you a series of articles on the teams in the running between now and the start of this major sporting event. With the “XV” edition of each month.

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