Six Nations Preview and Prediction: France

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Coach: Philippe Saint-André

Home ground: Stade De France, Paris

Strengths:
Where to start? A dominant front row; a soaring line-out; a big, ugly, athletic pack who can mix it with the best and backs with pace and natural flair in equal measure. If they switch it on and play at the tempo they’re capable of, they’re almost impossible to stop – as Australia found out in the Autumn Internationals. When they’re in the mood they look like world beaters, however…

Weaknesses:
… They’re not always in the mood. France’s perplexing lack of consistency is one of the biggest clichés in rugby. Capable of going from sublime one week to sub-par the next. The key to beating them, therefore, is to get on top of them psychologically. Do that and you stand a decent chance of beating them. Maybe.

Player to watch: Frédéric Michalak
Despite having plenty of young talent thrusting through, it’s the veteran half-back who you should be keeping your eye on. After spending years in the rugby wilderness, one of the world’s most mercurial players has gone through a bit of a renaissance this season – shepherding the impressive Toulon from scrum half. He played a key role in France’s successful Autumn campaign, and you shouldn’t be surprised if he does the same in this year’s Six Nations.

Last season: 4th
France’s 2012 campaign was, sadly, typified by the Jekyll and Hyde performances for which they have become famous. After romping to a comfortable victory on the opening weekend, they snuck past the Scots at Murrayfield before registering a disappoint draw in the rearranged fixture against Ireland in Paris. They ended with two defeats, to England at home and Wales away. 4th was a chronic disappointment for a group of players as talented as France’s, and this season they will not accept a similar failure

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Prediction: 1st
Surely they can’t do as badly this year, can they? Despite having to travel to both Twickenham and the Aviva Stadium, they look a much more complete team. The autumn tests brought with them a sense of consistency, as they won all their matches, including a highly impressive spanking of the Aussies. Talismanic flanker Theirry Dusautoir is back, the aforementioned Michalak has finally found some consistency to match his mercurial talent, and Wesley Fofana can count himself as truly one of the best centres in world rugby. With those two tough away fixtures they may not win a grand slam, but they could well still be crowned champions.

by Gideon Heugh

@GideonJH

5 thoughts on “Six Nations Preview and Prediction: France

  1. We obviously have all the assets to play well in this 6 NATIONS 2013 : new coach, a very good self confidence & a good group.
    So, this will be a very interesting Tournament for us and Italy’s game will be a key match. if we start well, then, we can hope to go ahead as the plans.
    Wales has a strong team too, so …. it’s gonna be great!

    Olivier

  2. How can they be picked to finish first? They have to travel 3 times, their back row is hurt, they have no real full back, their front row is overrated, and they plan to play Fofana on the wing.

  3. I really hope they don’t play Fofana on the wing. What a waste of brilliant talent that would be

    However, their game against Aus in the autumn would suggest that their front row is not that underrated. They do have some seriously good talent in the back row as well

    However, they are lacking a consistent fly-half and they don’t seem to know who their best backs are

    Given that and their schedule, it would be a tough call for them to come first

  4. Vive le l’indifférence! Vive l’incohérence, vive oh! what ever! Mad as a box of frogs…….

    DDD

  5. I’m sorry to be negative but your writing skills are appalling. Give me a shout if you want me to sub.

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