They have not met since the heartbreaking elimination against South Africa, in the quarter-finals of the World Cup at home (28-29), on October 15, 2023. Three months later , the coach of the XV of France, Fabien Galthié, announced, Wednesday January 17, the list of players selected to prepare the first match of the 2024 edition of the Six Nations Tournament – ​​Friday February 2, in Marseille against Ireland.

For this first scene of Act II of his mandate, the Lotois technician – extended until 2027, after the World Cup in Australia – favored continuity, with numerous “globalists” selected among the thirty-four players whose names were revealed in a press release. During his first four years at the head of the Blues, which he brought back to the forefront after years of slump, the former number 9 of the France team had forty-two players at each gathering. But following the discontent of the clubs at being deprived of so many players – discontent which resurfaced after the French elimination in the quarterfinals of the World Cup – a compromise was found at the start of the year, to reduce the ‘effective.

Fabien Galthié, who has also made several changes to his staff – with the departures of Laurent Labit, Karim Ghezal and Thibault Giroud, and the arrivals of Laurent Sempéré, Patrice Arlettaz and Nicolas Jeanjean – has made several strong decisions. In the announced absence of its captain and playing master, Antoine Dupont, who this year favors the French rugby sevens team with a view to participating in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the armband did not return to the Toulonnais Charles Ollivon, first captain of Galthié in 2020. It is his third row comrade – and captain of the reigning double European champions La Rochelle –, Gregory Alldritt, who will lead the Blues against Ireland.

Emilien Gailleton regains the blue jersey

Six novices are called to face the XV du Trèfle (if they are selected among the 23 players selected for the match in Marseille). Among them, the highly anticipated Toulouse second row of Australian origin, Emmanuel Meafou, with an impressive physique (2.03 m for 145 kg), who was unable to apply for the Blues at the World Cup due to World Rugby regulations on naturalized players. If the Toulousain had nevertheless been called into the French group during the 2023 tournament to acclimatize to his partners, in the same position, the Toulonnais Matthias Halagahu will take his first steps in Marcoussis (Essonne) – seat of the National Rugby Center.

His partner in the harbor club, Esteban Abadie, is also one of the neophytes, like the young center of the Union Bordeaux-Bègles Nicolas Depoortère – crowned U20 world champion with the Bleuets in the summer of 2023 –, and the hinge of Racing 92, made up of scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec and fly-half Antoine Gibert. After having prepared for the World Cup in the French group, but without being selected in the thirty-three of the World Cup, the young and versatile Palois Emilien Gailleton returns to the blue jersey.

For the rest, the backbone of the French XV, 2024 version, closely resembles that which has brought the Blues back to the forefront since 2020. In the absence of Antoine Dupont and his pivotal partner in Toulouse, Romain Ntamack – victim of a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee just before the World Cup – the keys to the French game should once again be entrusted to the Bordeaux hinge Maxime Lucu-Matthieu Jalibert. The latter should not be too disoriented, the back lines of the XV of France having largely been tinged with a Girondin accent for this first 2024 list (Lucu, Jalibert, Moefana, Penaud, Bielle-Biarrey and Depoortère).

“We want to take this group in 2027 [to the next World Cup in Australia]. 80% or 90% of the workforce will go,” Fabien Galthié recently declared in L’Equipe. After the disillusionment of the World Cup, the Blues aspire to win the Six Nations Tournament, two years after their coronation in 2022. In an edition where they host three times (Ireland, Italy, England), for two trips (Scotland and Countries of Wales), they will have the opportunity to establish themselves from the start against a vengeful Clover XV, also, because they were eliminated at the same stage as the French during the World Cup

Right pillars: Uini Atonio, Dorian Aldegheri, Thomas Laclayat Hookers: Julien Marchand, Peato Mauvaka, Gaëtan Barlot Left pillars: Cyril Baille, Reda Wardi, Sebastien Taofifenua Second rows: Emmanuel Meafou, Cameron Woki, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Gabrillagues, Matthias Halagahu Third rows: François Cros , Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt (cap.), Esteban Abadie, Paul Boudehent Halfbacks: Maxime Lucu, Nolann Le Garrec, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Gibert Centers: Jonathan Danty, Gaël Fickou, Yoram Moefana, Nicolas Depoortère Wings: Emilien Gailleton, Damian Penaud , Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Matthis LebelBack: Thomas Ramos, Melvyn Jaminet