This long weekend supposed to be rest was finally not so much. If the XV of France cut for 3 days with the ball and the field, after the 96-0 success against Namibia on Thursday in Marseille, and the bodies were able to blow, the heads, they, continued to heat thinking about the continuation of the World Cup. There was no shortage of food for thought for the Blues before joining, this Sunday evening, the Renaissance Hotel in Aix-en-Provence.
First with the soap opera Antoine Dupont. Will come back, won't come back? Seriously injured in the jaw, operated Friday night in Toulouse, the French captain could finally be on his feet in 3 or 4 weeks. Questions about the future of their leader and friend, between anxieties and hopes, have undoubtedly agitated the minds of each other.
Then, on the probable opponent of the XV of France in the quarterfinals. The huge clash in Pool B on Saturday at the Stade de France, between South Africa, the reigning world champions, and Ireland, the world number one, was closely followed by the team and staff. And he kept all his promises, which delighted the public but gave some cold sweat to the fans of the Blues.
The power of the Springboks, a concern for the staff
Beaten (13-8), the Springboks have a good chance of finishing second, and therefore facing Fabien Galthié's men in the quarters, if they retain their first place by beating Italy on October 6 in their last group match.
A shock France-South Africa from the quarters, therefore. It is this final before the letter that looms on October 15 at the Stade de France. Not necessarily good news for the Blues. The members of the French staff did not jump to the ceiling after the South African defeat. They were a dozen to follow the meeting together, in their hotel in Aix-en-Provence where most stayed. And the memory of the last match France-South Africa, on November 12, 2022 in Marseille, has resurfaced.
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Beyond the victory (30-26), the Blues had accumulated the injured (Danty, Flament, Baille) and Antoine Dupont received a red card. Fabien Galthié's players had ended up chewed and the condition of the bodies the next day at breakfast was not nice to see. If victory is possible again against the South Africans in this possible quarter-final, it is the game after – and the potential new injuries – that can cause concern. Even if the adversity in the semi-finals looks less challenging on paper with a less dense part of the opposite table.
Players 'not surprised more than that' by Ireland-South Africa
The Ireland-South Africa match also interested the players, of course, but to varying degrees. Without worrying them. Most had left Aix and followed him home, friends or family. Some cut to take advantage of their loved ones and only followed him with one eye, or looked at him afterwards.
The Varois of the band, including Gabin Villière, player of RC Toulon, Melvyn Jaminet, native of the area as Gaël Fickou, have for example followed him together in an establishment of the family of the three-quarters center of Racing 92. "They were not surprised more than that by the intensity of this close game," said a relative of one of the players. They expected it. They know they can beat them."
It will be necessary to ensure qualification in the quarters by a last group match, against Italy in Lyon on October 6. An opponent not to be taken lightly. The Blues have two weeks to prepare. It will be without Antoine Dupont, who stayed in Toulouse for his convalescence, and who should join his teammates in Aix in a week. To return to the field for this Dantesque quarter-final?