In Rome, against Italy, the teammates of Guilhem Guirado closed with a laborious success (25-14) an edition of the Tournament of the Six Nations which revealed, once again, the extent of their shortcomings.
Should we really force ourselves to be optimistic? In this case, oval fans will remember that France did not allow Italy to win, Saturday, March 16 in Rome, its first victory after 21 losses in a row. Similarly, they will rely on the strict reality of the scoreboard and will note that the men of Jacques Brunel triumphed Transalpine on the score of 25-14, thanks to three tries scored by Antoine Dupont, Yohann Huget and Damian Penaud and achievements at the foot of Romain Ntamack. Finally, they will rejoice that France does not finish the Tournament with four defeats on the clock for the first time since the transition to six nations in 2000 and does not suffer the humiliation of a first loss since 2013 against the Azzurri.
"It was a very difficult match, like our tournament, very difficult," commented Mathieu Bastareaud soberly, at the microphone of France 2, at the end of the meeting, inviting to the only attitude that is worth: lucidity .
Because it will have escaped neither the staff nor the players nor the supporters that the success obtained on the last day of the Tournament against a nation holding the wooden spoon for the fifth consecutive year and appearing at the fifteenth place of the world ranking does not mask any gaps shown throughout the competition. Especially since this victory is almost a miracle if we consider that Italy has owned the ball during 60% of the game and that it has been threatening until the end of regulation time.
Six months to find solutions
Who knows, moreover, what would have happened if the transalpine opener Tommaso Allan had not forgotten five points accessible to the foot? Or if Tito Tebaldi had not committed a forward before the French line (65th) while the Blues were only six points ahead, a new opportunity missed by the Italians unable to materialize their domination.
Or, finally, if Damian Penaud, at the price of a superb defense, did not make escape the Marco Zanon the ball as he slumped in the in-goal (75) for the last ten minutes suffocating .. .
But Penaud and the Blues are currently sailing far, far from the best Southern and European nations: the Welsh who managed to beat them (24-19) despite a delay of sixteen points in opening, the English who rolled them on February 10 ( 44-8) and the Irish who outclassed them on Sunday (26-14).
As the World Cup in Japan (20 September-2 November) looms, the coaching of Jacques Brunel, whether reinforced or not, will have to find solutions to avoid the fiasco of a first elimination in pools in the competition. No doubt it is necessary to summon optimism to believe that it will succeed …
The XV of France still at the stage of lost illusions
Bruno Bouvet (with AFP)