After a poor performance against England in the Six Nations Championship last week, the French national rugby team, Les Bleus, has come under heavy criticism from professionals within the country. The team had already been slammed ahead of the game by ex-fly-half Thomas Castaignede, who claims that something needs to change dramatically for an improvement to be seen in the national side.
The need to evolve
According to a report in the Daily Mail, ex-player Castaignede has been quoted as saying that the famous Les Bleus team has lost its way. In the report, he claims that a number of factors are affecting French rugby and that while the game and the rules have changed over time, the team has not adapted and has been left at a huge disadvantage.
The French national rugby team was once famous for its unpredictability and flair, with these characteristics making the team not only a global force in rugby but also a favourite amongst rugby fans, both at home and overseas. In the Daily Mail report, the words used to describe the current team are quite the opposite, such as ‘dysfunctional’, ‘one-dimensional’ and ‘lowly’. The French team is now ranked eighth in the world, despite its many years of incredible domination.
Clubs v national side
In a bizarre twist, the game at club level is as strong as ever in France, with large audiences, many television broadcasts and very strong players; in fact, the strength of the clubs seems to have occurred at the expense of the national side. Clubs are said to be targeting the bigger players from countries such as New Zealand and Australia and talent is simply not being nurtured at home from a grass roots level.
This means it could take a generation for the game to improve for the national side. Participation at an amateur level is said to be ‘impoverished’; unlike amateur rugby in the UK, which is buoyant and successful, things are simply not the same in France. In the UK, amateur teams make the most of resources such as http://www.sportplan.net/, using them as inspiration for training and rugby drills.
According to Castaignede, the French side will need to start evolving if it wants to claw back the success of years gone by.