We think France currently represent everything that is wrong with international rugby, here are six reasons why…
Whilst there’s no doubting the commitment of players like Rory Kockott and Scott Spedding to the French cause, there doesn’t seem to be something quite right about their inclusion for Les Bleus. Neither player has any ties to the country other than that they have lived and worked there for the last few years. Given the increasing number of foreign players coming into the Top 14 it looks like this trend is set to continue.
2.Club vs Country Debates
Much like the English Premier League in football, French Top 14 clubs are importing an increasing number of players from abroad. This is resulting in less French players playing regularly at the top level, meaning the national coach has fewer selection options. We are also seeing clubs beginning to challenge the national union in France as the debate around player availability rages on and clubs begin to wield their increasing power.
3.A Preference For Size Over Skill
Les Bleus became synonymous with a game based around skill and flair that got fans off their seats and left rugby purists purring. Unfortunately the new regime has completely done away with this idealistic style and now focus on a power based game where selections seem to be based on size rather than skills levels. This has seen the likes of Mathieu Basteraud selected ahead of talented players like Gael Fickou.
4.Lack Of Youth Development
One of the knock-on effects of the rise of foreign imports into the Top 14 has been the impact on French youth players who are finding their opportunities limited. Whilst this isn’t too much of an issue right now given that it is a fairly new phenomenon, however in a few more years it’s easy to imagine Les Bleus struggling even more as players coming through their youth systems aren’t given the necessary exposure at the top level.
Whether it be a new half back pairing every other game, or a great performance followed by an absolutely dire one, the French really are the basket cases of international rugby. What they need right now is a coach with a clear vision of how the side should play and progress who is willing to stick with it through the good times and the bad. Unfortunately what they have at the moment is a coach who is the epitome of nonchalance.
France are currently one of the worst international sides to watch in the world. Much of this comes down to a preference for size over skill, however the coach clearly seems inclined to force his players to follow a specific game plan, even if it doesn’t suit their skill-set. Unfortunately this is reflecting badly on the Six Nations as games involving France tend to be more akin to watching paint dry than following what should be one of the most entertaining tournaments on earth.