How to judge the Six Nations Tournament of the XV of France?
In the light of thunderous beginnings with a success against the vice-champions of the English world and a first victory in Cardiff since 2010, the men of Fabien Galthié were bearers of pretty hopes.
But the setback against Scotland, against a selection yet within the reach of captain Ollivon and his teammates, delayed the operation to reconquer French rugby.
The 2020 Six Nations Tournament finally returns to England, vice-world champion.
But France, led by its young class, finished 2nd and returned to the concert of the great nations.
It was one of the ambitions displayed by coach Fabien Galthié and manager Raphaël Ibanez.
With a record of four victories for a single defeat, the coach quite simply achieves the best first Tournament of a French coach since the year 2000, the year when the competition entered Italy.
At that time, Bernard Laporte, today at the head of the French Federation (FFR), led the XV of France with a certain Galthié in the fray.
France-England (24-17): a dream start
A team was born in a Stade de France ready to pass in the towel over years of scarcity and unworthy play of French Flair (the French game).
At half-time, the score of 17-0 (two tries by Rattez and Ollivon) reflects a perfectly controlled match in attack and defense against the vice-world champions.
The scrum-half Antoine Dupont as a perfect strategist orchestrates the tricolor attacks and takes advantage of the slightest breaches as evidenced by his breakthrough in the second half to launch his captain Ollivon, author that day of a double.
At the foot facing the poles, Romain Ntamack performs a faultless.
One small regret, on a youthful mistake, the French gave up to the English the bonus point with a penalty to the siren of Farrell.
A point that will be important at the end of the Tournament.
The victory of the young French class led by Antoine Dupont augured for the best.
LP / OC
France-Italy (35-22): a real draft
France takes the bonus against the Transalpins but it emerges from this totally unbalanced meeting a mixed feeling.
Like a start on the hats of wheels with two tries in a quarter of an hour before allowing the Squadra Azzurra to keep hope (13-10).
In the 60th minute and with already four tries registered, the XV of France could have driven the point home.
On the contrary, he let the Italians cross the goal line twice after the break for a total of three tries conceded.
Everything is not perfect.
There is still work to be done before the trip to Cardiff.
The sky is not yet all blue, but Galthié repeats it: "Our goal is to win the matches".
Wales-France (27-23): a founding success
In the temple of rugby, in front of 80,000 white-hot supporters, Charles Ollivon and his teammates pass a maturity test.
A successful test with distinction since they leave with the first French victory in Cardiff since 2010. The XV of France offers an offensive recital (three tries) and defensive with a sequence of defensive tackles before the break remained in the memories.
After two receptions, Galthié and his men now know that they can travel in peace.
Scotland-France (28-17): a bitter defeat
Since Cardiff's success, the word Grand Slam is no longer taboo in the French ranks.
The XV of France will fall from high in Edinburgh.
The players lose the thread like Haouas expelled for having played the boxers and who let his teammates evolve in numerical inferiority more than 50 minutes.
Faced with a selection within their reach, already beaten by England and Ireland in the Tournament, Ollivon and his men tripped over the Scottish plaid.
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The defeat shows above all the psychological and physical limits of the group.
Camille Chat (calf), Antoine Dupont (shoulder), Romain Ntamack (concussion) and Haouas (suspension) will miss out against Ireland who must travel to the Stade de France a week later.
Injuries that add to that of Baille, Rattez and Penaud.
But containment intervenes on the Old Continent and puts the Six Nations Tournament on hiatus.
We know the rest.
The very beautiful suite.