Category Archives: France rugby union team

Jacques Brunel has brought France together, but can he bring success? | Andy Bull

Brunel took the job nobody wanted by succeeding Guy Novès and has lifted the gloom but now needs results, starting against England in Paris

Back in 2009, Jacques Brunel made a bet with his players at Perpignan. If they won the championship that season, Brunel would give a piggyback to their prop, Sebastian Bozzi. Brunel is a slight man, Bozzi is not. The latter came in at 19 stone. Brunel was 55 years old. Well, Perpignan beat Clermont in the final, 22-13, and won the Brennus Shield for the first time in 50 years. And after the match Brunel hoisted Bozzi up on his shoulders and set off around the field. “That’s Jacques,” says Perry Freshwater, who played in that game, “always as good as his word”. A week later, Brunel had a heart attack.

Related: England’s Eddie Jones looks to the future with France on the horizon

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England’s wet-weather game and power will be too much for France | Nick Evans

Six Nations collision in Paris to be a huge struggle for France but England must not allow them to be in with a sniff late on

I know precisely what it’s like to play against a France team in the mood. It may be 11 years ago now but I can still vividly remember being part of the All Blacks side who lost the 2007 World Cup quarter‑final against the French.

It was as if they grew another leg, arm, heart – it was wave after wave and it was unstoppable. There were blue shirts everywhere and it didn’t matter how hard we tried, there was nothing we could do. I’m sure it was a great spectacle but not so good for New Zealanders.

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Jefferson Poirot: ‘We were optimistic even before Scotland beat England’

France prop uses hypnosis to prepare for big games and says there will be no lack of aggression from the hosts in Saturday’s Six Nations showdown in Paris

With the surname Poirot it was perhaps inevitable that France’s loose-head prop would develop a heightened interest in using “the little grey cells”. Front-rows have definitely changed. While it is 36 years since the England prop Colin Smart was infamously tricked into swilling aftershave at the post-match banquet in Paris, the thoughtful Jefferson Poirot explains how his preparation for Saturday’s Test against the English will mainly be in the mind.

“I have a big focus on mental preparation,” says the 25-year-old. “I love it and I work on it a lot. There’s a lot of hypnosis when I work with my mental coach.”

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Mathieu Bastareaud the cult hero matures to give France stability

Powerful centre is in the form of his life and will pose plenty of problems for England in the Six Nations next Saturday

The foreword to Mathieu Bastareaud’s book Tête Haute (Head Held High), in which the Frenchman lays bare his soul, is written by Jonny Wilkinson. He speaks of the honour and privilege of playing alongside Bastareaud at Toulon but, first, he recalls the centre’s arrival at the club – “for an Englishman, he represented a real mystery”. Plus ça change.

For Bastareaud remains one of rugby’s most complicated and perhaps misunderstood individuals. Not long before his book was released, after a bad defeat for Toulon at the end of 2014, he gave a tearful interview in which he said: “I’m a zombie. I think that now I’ve come to the end of the road.” That self-doubt, of which he has often spoken, does not chime with his rampaging on-field style – “a superhuman force”, writes Wilkinson – but as the current captain of his club, and vice-captain of his country, there appears a maturity to him, his recent ban for an inexcusable homophobic slur notwithstanding.

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Six Nations: talking points from the weekend's action

Scotland’s next task is to improve on the road, Wales show their worth with the ball and France still off the pace

It seems cruel that anyone in Scotland should have to talk about anything other than their victory, but in the hours after the match Gregor Townsend was already thinking about their next Test, away to Ireland. “We’ve got our own issues to deal with,” he said, “we have to show a truer picture of what we’re about when we’re away from home”. Scotland have been a poor side when they’re playing away for a long while now, but those two recent defeats, to England at Twickenham and Wales in Cardiff, were particularly bitter given how much better they’ve become at home. Townsend said he doesn’t necessarily expect to win in Dublin, he just wants his team to reproduce the kind of rugby they play at Murrayfield. They have the makings of a great side. But they need to take that next big step. Andy Bull

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Hugo Bonneval settles France’s nerves with vital try against Italy

• Six Nations: France 34-17 Italy
• Italy seem destined for the wooden spoon after a third defeat

Hugo Bonneval’s second-half try proved pivotal as France ended their nine-match winless run and left Italy facing another Six Nations wooden spoon after a tense battle in Marseille.

France’s 34-17 victory – their first since March – came despite an error-strewn display, with the hosts relying on the boot of the scrum-half Maxime Machenaud to keep their noses in front before Bonneval’s dramatic score on the hour mark.

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Big six who have stamped their authority on the Six Nations so far | Paul Rees

Big hitters, gamechangers, impact backs, formidable forwards – here are six players who have made an impression after two thrilling rounds

Age 30, Wales, flanker, caps 15

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France rugby players questioned after Edinburgh sexual assault claim

Police say inquiries established that no crimes were committed

France rugby players have been questioned by police after a report of sexual assault in Edinburgh city centre following the national team’s game against Scotland.

Officers said their inquiries had established that no crimes were committed. It is understood members of the team were taken off a chartered Jet2 flight to Paris scheduled o leave Edinburgh airport at 11am on Monday.

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