Barring a miracle this Saturday, in other words an improved victory against Wales (probability: 90%) combined with an English success in Ireland (probability: 0.5%), the XV of France will not win a second VI Nations Tournament in a row. However, on the way to the Grail – a world title at home this fall – Fabien Galthié’s Blues have already sown some records. And that’s just the beginning. Antoine Dupont and his colleagues thus increased the historic number of victories in a row for the Habs from 10 to 14, before stumbling in Ireland (32-19).
“It’s extraordinary, enormous, bravo! ignites the immense Philippe Sella, the first player in the world to exceed 100 selections (111 in total between 1982 and 1995). Records are made to be broken. These players delight us. Many are still young or very young. »
“This generation will take all these records to another level”, also prophesies Fabien Pelous, the most capped Blue in History (118), no more worried than that about losing his Grail one day. “It’s part of post-career life. And then it is rather a good sign. It means that the national team is working well. The generation before, she didn’t break any records. A short review of the performances in question.
Tests: Damian Penaud runs behind Serge Blanco
Thanks to his double in the biggest French victory of all time against England at Twickenham (10-53), Damian Penaud (26) became the best tricolor try scorer in the Tournament (12 achievements) ahead of Vincent Clerc (11). With a total of 24, he is approaching at great speed the bar of 38 for Serge Blanco, unsurpassed since the Mitterrand era. “Damian has all the potential and the dynamic, individual and collective, to go for this record”, assures Clerc, who barely realized that his 11 tries in the venerable continental competition were now part of ancient history.
“I knew I was well placed in terms of total tries , but in the Tournament, I did not know, smiles the consultant for France Télévisions. I find it great. We feel that Damian takes a lot of pleasure. When you’re a winger, when you touch balls, when there’s a certain form of collective euphoria, that’s when you usually score. Moreover, he is very opportunistic. »
Number of points in the Tournament: Thomas Ramos in pursuit of Gérald Merceron
Promoted starting back of the Blues since this fall, the Toulousain managed a high-flying tournament, despite a less good blow in Ireland. With 68 points in 4 games, a nice average of 17 per game, he can reasonably hope to erase Gérald Merceron from the shelves this Saturday. Especially against the Welsh who no longer scare the Italians… The former Clermont opener had planted 80 during the 2002 Grand Slam.
“We can think that Thomas Ramos, scorer and in canes, can go for the record, judge Vincent Clerc. It doesn’t have to be a goal, but points can come quickly in the game. The only thing that can curb the offensive ambitions of this team is the storm and the announced rain. ” Certainly. But after all, it was also raining last Saturday at Twickenham…
Number of selections: will Gaël Fickou catch up with Fabien Pelous?
For the number of matches in the Six Nations Tournament, it’s folded, the center of Racing counts (43), more than any other Frenchman. If we go back to the 20th century, and therefore to the V Nations, Fabien Pelous (49) and Philippe Sella (50) remain in front. For the total caps, Fickou (78) is still 40 units behind Pelous. But the tricolor defense captain will only celebrate his 29th birthday on March 26, even if it sometimes feels like he started in the days of Jean-Luc Sadourny and Philippe Bernat-Salles.
40 selections difference? It’s been three or four years, calculates Pelous. I don’t see how Gaël wouldn’t continue his career until then, even if injuries can come into play. I’ve always had a rather collective spirit. I am delighted that there are players who come to titillate this record. And it is to be hoped that he will be beaten. And if it’s by several players, it’s even better! »
Uini Atonio (49 selections at almost 33 years old), Antoine Dupont, Baptiste Serin, Cyril Baille, Romain Taofifenua (42 each) or Damian Penaud (41) are still far from the great Fabien. And we are not even talking about the world record held by Alun-Wyn Jones, the Welsh second line, who will celebrate this Saturday at the Stade de France his 157th selection, at 37, by the grace of his talent and the lack of reservoir of the Principality.
But how far will the Dupont – Ntamack pair go?
The Toulouse hinge will celebrate against the Welsh its 26th joint tenure, and has already left in the retro the doublet of the years 2010 Parra – Trinh-Duc (21). Given that Dupont is only 26 and Ntamack just 23, the duo can follow in the footsteps of Irish veterans association Murray–Sexton (68 games together, current streak). Especially since coach Fabien Galthié is not a fan of upheaval at the slightest slack, unlike most of his predecessors.
“The changes are made more on injuries than on poor performance, as with the emergence of Ethan Dumortier [à la place du poissard Gabin Villière], observes Clerc. We have seen players be more inside and still be maintained. The results proved management right. “This is particularly the case for Ntamack, in the hard in November and at the start of the Tournament, but unbreakable in the minds of the staff.
Some records that will be harder to find
No current player appears in the top 10 scorers of the XV of France, dominated by Frédéric Michalak with 436 points. It must be said that since the start of the Galthié era, in 2020, Romain Ntamack, Matthieu Jalibert, Melvyn Jaminet have in turn heated the tee, a charge today entrusted to Thomas Ramos.
The four Grand Slams achieved by Fabien Pelous (yes, still him) and his contemporary Olivier Magne in 1997, 1998 (V Nations), 2002 and 2004 (VI Nations) will also be a match, since the entire current generation has only one. so far, last year. “We realize that a Grand Slam is not easy to do in the end, laughs Pelous. We won it in 1997 and 1998, then in 99 we finished 3rd or 4th [en fait 5e et derniers à la différence de points]. It was another rugby. This team seems a bit safer to me. »