Carnets de voyage d'une grenouille

Voyager, c'est naître et mourir à chaque instant. Victor Hugo

15 octobre 2007

Et si c'est lui qui le dit, en plus.......

Thomas Castaignede

Laporte has made France play against their true nature

He may have instilled discipline, but Bernard Laporte's tactics stifled French flare when it was needed.

Thomas Castaignede

October 15, 2007 12:40 AM

As the French national anthem should put it after Saturday evening, Aux Larmes Citoyens. Rather than lamenting what might have been, however, I'd like to look fair and square at why England, not France, are spending this week preparing for the World Cup final. First of all, we need to congratulate England: they put in a huge match and I can now see them becoming world champions, After this who would bet against them?

The pack managed to hold off the French forwards, with Nick Easter the stand-out, and most of all there was Mr Jonny: the talk is all of his kicking but I'd look at his tackling, the desire he shows in every aspect of the game. Chapeau messieurs.

France died in this semi-final but they did not use all the weapons available because the tactics that were decided on before the match got in the way of the players. It would have taken a brave man to take several players out of a team who had beaten the tournament favourites but the tactics were poor. There was a belief that what had worked for New Zealand would work against England but these were two different sides.

All that could be said for the kicking game was that it should have been employed against the English in 2003. Bernard Laporte said afterwards that France should have played fewer garry-owens and kicked more behind the defence but I don't agree: England read the France kicking game well. It was at the times when France ditched the kicking game and moved the ball wide and fast against New Zealand and England that the opposition looked rattled. Kicking ahead produced a sterile game which achieved nothing.

There were other factors clearly. The France players had gone deep into their reserves over the last few weeks because of that disastrous start to the tournament. That meant they had to produce heroic performances to beat Ireland and New Zealand, and perhaps too much was left on the pitch of the Millennium Stadium. I could feel the players were more tired, less dynamic in the final minutes on Saturday than they had been against New Zealand.

The fact that Jason Robinson had such an extraordinary game highlights another of France's problems: Robinson ended up being the difference between the two teams because of his ability to change the tempo of the game in a flash. If you have the goal of being world champions, you have to change the rhythm at times, find a different gear.

Each time France have produced an extraordinary performance recently they have done so when they have been allowed to develop the good things in their game. It is difficult for us to go into a game with a stereotyped plan. Of course we needed to focus on defence and discipline but not at the price of being French. When you see the true nature of the players, what they created in this World Cup against Ireland and New Zealand, you have to say Laporte has made a mistake in trying to make France go against their true nature.

In this World Cup they have lost two games against opposition who did not offer a great deal in attack. On neither occasion did France deserve victory but the potential in terms of talent was there to win by a good deal. On the other hand, England showed heart and committment and nous but there is not a lot more to them than what was on display and the same goes for Argentina.

I've said the bench was France's strong suit but it didn't work on Saturday as it did against New Zealand. The circumstances were a bit strange, because of Fabien Pelous coming off early, so Sébastien Chabal did not have the impact he would have had if he had come on with half an hour to go. Frédéric Michalak didn't manage to do the same as he did against New Zealand but therein lies the problem of keeping him on the bench: everyone expects him to do something special. so he arrives on the pitch thinking he has to take risks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

What France have needed all along is a consistent pattern in selection rather than audacious bets which sometimes pay off, as Laporte's gamble did against New Zealand nine days ago. One example was the way that Clement Poitrenaud was in and out at full-back, most famous is the number of half-back combinations Laporte has used. Look at this World Cup: we started with David Skrela and Pierre Mignoni, went through Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and Michalak and ended up with Elissalde and Lionel Beauxis. The players do not know what the next day will bring.

Let's not forget this was an opportunity which France will not experience again for many years: the chance to play the World Cup final on home soil. The choice of a new coach will be a big one, knowing that the objective is not necessarily to be good over the four years to come - and definitely not to be poor as England have been - but on the day of the competition itself to have the certainties which were not there this year.

Posté par Gawellou à 21:57 - Humeur - Commentaires [2] - Permalien [#]

Commentaires

    j'ai pas tout lu, mais il parle bien anglais, hein
    (oui, c'est nul, je sors)

    Posté par eddie, 16 octobre 2007 à 08:40
  • Ca m'a bien fit rire quand même ton mot ;o)) !!!

    Posté par Gawelle, 16 octobre 2007 à 08:41

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